Bad result, but good football

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 0 Oxford United 1 (League 2) Saturday November 28th 2015

After the reports of the capitulation at Mansfield I was not relishing taking on the second top team in the division especially when you look at the stats of one loss in sixteen games.

Ronnie Moore in his pre-match preamble on Smoggie Radio was of the opinion that despite the stats this division was closer than you think and it all depends on the form on the day. So, boosted by the manager's rallying call, I thought "yes we can".

The omens were still not working in our favour as the visitors turned us round at the kick-off and I just do not like that. There should be a law against away teams making us kick down bank in the first half.

Even at the kick-off we messed up, passing the ball straight to the opposition rather than to our own players. Oates made a good run at the opposition and fed Featherstone who hit a speculative shot over the bar.

The Ditchburn Poolie was in raptures early on as Carroll played what I called a great ball into the box, for that was inches away from Gray, who was storming in on the near post. The Ditchburn insisted I called it a “magnificent“ ball, so, magnificent it was.

I will say that Bates, whose form is improving, made a great block on the line to deny Oxford an early goal. Duckworth, who is in good form, laid on a good cross but Magnay could only head it wide of the post. Pools were looking good and a Naismith free kick chipped into the box was cleared to Gray, who was unlucky not to get the first strike as he turned and shot, his effort coming back off the bar.

The visiting fans were getting excited when a shot hit the side netting. Bates made a great stop, again chasing back to deny the Oxford striker a clear shot on goal. It was good defending by Bates, who was later named Man of the Match.

Pools were matching the visitors and Jackson in particular was steady in defence and always pushing into the opposition box when Pools attacked in numbers. The link play was great to watch and Pools should have had a penalty when Gray was taken down as Pools pushed the visitors back. The impressed Ditchburn and I agreed this was the best half of football from our side we had seen at home all season, and it ended goalless. Both teams had chances and I was pleased with the formation and the application of our team.
"Pools looked a different side after the loss of Magnay and Gray and the chances were hard to come by"

Second half, early on, was a similar pattern with both teams pressing; Mandron should have scored from about three yards but needed an extra touch, which gave the keeper time to close him down. Oxford stepped up their game and were looking dangerous.

We lost Magnay, who apparently had double vision after a heading battle, and Gray was taken off after a kick on the calf. This kid can play and was always in the thick of it and literally had three men on him every time he had the ball.

Walker came on and virtually his first touch was a free kick that went close but just skimmed the bar from well outside the box. Oxford were now playing with the confidence that their record of sixteen unbeaten gives them.

Carson made a fantastic save from a free kick directly in front of the goal. The ball bounced off him as he dived at the feet of an attacker and was able to dive from the turf just in time to knock the ball away a second time.

The game was tight and had been played in a good atmosphere until the big time Charlie Danny Hylton spoiled the mood of the occasion by taunting the home fans after scoring a good goal. I wonder what is lacking in a person's life that he has to carry on that way when he is being paid to entertain the punters. He looked like a spoilt schoolboy who had just nicked the milk from one of his female schoolmates. The sad part was the ref stood and watched this going on and did nothing. This may sound like sour grapes but I hate to see actions like this from any side, including our own.

While I am on a rant, players taking forever to walk across the pitch when subbed are becoming so monotonous now. Even to the extent they walk to the far side of the pitch when they see the board go up. What should be done to cut it out is the ref allows the same length of time to be played without the new sub being called on once the player has gone off. Pie in the sky you say. And I agree.

Pools looked a different side after the loss of Magnay and Gray and the chances were hard to come by. Mandron set up Walker who shot over the bar, and that was about the last chance we had.

Despite playing some good football against a top side you still have to be disappointed with the lack of ability to take the chances we did make.