The Great Escape - Now a Distant Memory


Well, who would have believed it? After the Easter Monday game against Leyton Orient it was six games undefeated – four wins, two draws and four clean sheets. After the 3-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers, Craig Hignett must have wondered what he’d let himself in for. Yet, it's all come together in all sorts of ways.

Jake Carroll is a different player. I would have made him Man of the Match against Dagenham and Redbridge – not for the goal he scored but for the one he saved on the line. It was a brilliant piece of anticipation – and contributed to a Pools victory. A goal for the opposition at that time would have led us to groan ‘Oh, here we go again!’. His change round has been put down to seeing a sports psychologist but I would reckon the new regime at Pools was an additional factor.

As has been said, same players, different team. Man management is important in footy. I always remember Cloughie once being asked what was the most difficult part of being a manager. He replied it was the way you treated players who were under performing. Some, he said, needed a kick up the backside; others needed a kiss and a cuddle.

And, of course, Nathan Thomas can now score goals! He’s going to be a damned good signing for Pools - so instead of making them, he can now score them. He (and Luke James and Jake Gray for that matter) was rather subdued against AFC Wimbledon but that was no reflection on any of them. Rather, it was the way that Wimbledon approached the game. OK, they wanted to keep cuddling Billy Paynter for most of the game but their tight marking made it difficult for Pools to create worthwhile chances. I’ve no complaint about that – they played the game fairly and didn’t resort to persistent fouling unlike, for example, Wycombe. A good reflection on the way the game was played was the fact that no yellow cards were produced.
"it's all come together in all sorts of ways"

The fact that we’ve had four clean sheets in our little run of unbeaten games is an indication of how we’ve tightened up. Jake Carroll I’ve already mentioned but Matthew Bates has now silenced all the doubters and, of course, there’s Adam ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. ‘Stonewall’ would be a good permanent signing for us but I suspect that if Middlesbrough release him at the end of the season he could go to a League One club.

Late goals now seem to be a thing of the past – we have the ability to hold out. Jake Gray will, I’m sure, go on to develop his career at Crystal Palace – if not, he may be ripe for a Championship club.

Now that we’re almost safe, discussion is focussing on who we can give chances to in the last few matches but our scope may be limited. As I understand it, the Football League lay down that clubs have got to field their strongest sides and this could prove a problem as some of our remaining games are against clubs in the automatic promotion spots/play off places/ on the fringe of the play off places – Accrington, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth and, of course Carlisle. Still, those games shouldn’t worry us – we more than held our own against Northampton and deserved a draw against Plymouth. I suppose we could play Josh Laurent in one game – let’s have a look at him!

Well, soon be Euro 2016. As Poolies, our main interest will be whether Trevor Carson gets into the Northern Ireland squad – let’s hope he does! As usual, the FA are up to their old tricks, namely flogging replica kits at sky high prices. Its £101 for a full adult replica kit and £84 for a junior kit. What sort of ivory tower do these people live in?