A Great Display of Football

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Derby County 2  (FA Cup R3) Saturday January 9th 2016

Pools up for the cup once again and it has been a long wait for football, never mind a cup game. Derby County had made ten changes for this game. There are two ways of looking at that, either they are shot scared of Pools' unbeaten Christmas run or they are just trying a new system in a different division, but lying second in their own league I think it must be the first option.

The crowd of just a tad less than five thousand on a decent winter day were all looking to a good game, possibly not expecting to win but not to show our selves up. Kevin Dixon was introduced to the crowd before the game as he was up for a bit of a fans do in the town tonight. Also the new link with Finland was announced with a photo opportunity for our new friends on the pitch before the game. Sounds like a few of the Hartlepool lads could be spending their summer jollies playing footy in Finlandia.

Pools made a bright start to this game, and from the first corner Woods went close with a shot. Oates then made a great run into the box and was brought down but sadly, again we had an official who can only officiate one team at a time and it was not the blues' turn today. A blatant drag to the ground of Gray and then Fenwick flattened in the box - just waved on. I know I say this every week but it is true of some of the officials we get at the Vic.

Oates was lively and erratic at times but again he made a great run and was flattened, but nothing was given Pools' way. Pools were doing very well against the Championship side and on twenty minutes they had never really threatened our goal. It looked to me as if they were a little too casual and taking us for granted, as Pools were in their faces all the time.

I, along with the Ditchburn Poolie, was impressed with our attacking style and application, we looked a more balanced side and everyone was involved, which was good to see. The visitors went close just on the break but Carson made two crucial saves, and Carroll headed a strong shot over the bar as the visitors stepped up their game with the half coming to an end. We had played well and actually looked the more likely side in the first half.

Derby, sporting their new winger, who was a bit of a show boater, was taking all the corners and one he took at the Town End from the Mill House side almost trickled into the side netting. It was only later, I was informed, that our mascot had a hand in this: as the player moved to take his kick, a huge monkey hand slapped the hoarding behind him and he almost shot himself, and then to cover his embarrassment was inspecting the turf after messing the kick up. I must say there must be a lot of spare money in football if they can pay two and a half million pounds for this player.
"We shocked them and surprised a lot of our own fans with a great display of football"

Pools started the second half in the same manner, and Gray was very unlucky on a great run from the halfway line left defenders in his wake but the ball bobbled off a defender's heel in the box as he was about to shoot. The two million dollar man had one speculative shot that rattled the Pools cross bar and was cleared.

Pools kicking down bank the second half were still looking good and a great run by Woods ended with a ball crossed to the middle of the box where Fenwick was waiting to pounce when Gray latched onto the ball and volleyed it into the net. Just what Pools deserved for the show they were putting on.

Maybe the shock of going behind was dawning on the visitors and they stepped up their game in the second half with Carson blocking and diving at anything sent his way. Sadly he could do nothing about the equalizer as, for the first time in the game, we stood off them and the sub Butterfield took advantage. Moving along the line he was unchallenged and hit a good shot past Carson to make it one all.

Carson was in action again as Derby looked more confident. Darren Bent squirmed his way into the box and hit his shot straight at Carson. It was Bent who eventually got the winner as he hit a shot across the goal and into the net when the game was nearly done.

Considering the opposition and our form of late I think this was the expected result. As I said earlier we did not want to be hammered and that could have been the thinking of the visitors prior to the game. We shocked them and surprised a lot of our own fans with a great display of football. Fenwick was captain for the day and Harrison took over late in the game. Featherstone for my money was the man of the match but the accolade was given to Hawkins who did, along with all of the team, have a good day at the office despite the result.

Two issues I have with the game. As always, the official who gave Pools nothing all game but allowed the visitors to foul continuously and with Mr. Moore who again took off Gray, who was our most potent player in attack and brought on Walker who was just lazy in losing the ball just outside their box which led to the second goal. Let the lad go if he is not putting in the work.

Carson was superb throughout the game and he could have been contender for man of the match. The Ditchburn has this theory that the keeper is so sharp on his line that he must be ambidextrous in both feet.

One other point was that their keeper Mitchell is a Poolie, so I hope he got a bit of stick from the Town End.