No Man of the Match

report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 0 Cambridge 5 (League 2) Saturday December 7th 2016

Well it was a match against Cambridge at least for the first half. One of my lasting memories of watching Pools over the recent years is the game of two halves.

More often than not they have been in the same category as today’s debacle. I often wonder after such second half slumps what the hell goes on in the dressing room during the break. I think it has been more of a problem since the start of IOR years, although the "We are unbeatable" era was a bit special but seems to be so long ago now. "It must be the half time cuppa" was the answer I got from most fans.

One theory, which is the vogue in modern day football, is that we are over-complicating the team talks and baffling our players on various theories of how to play the game. Other forces such as chairmen getting involved, player power getting in the way of team work, or the fact we have sub standard players who cannot play to the manager's game plan may also have an effect.

We have read the press releases in which Hignett claims Pools work hard during training. They are expected to work hard to be picked for a game, So it stands to reason that if the training is ok and it all falls apart on the pitch then it has to be down to the squad we have, or the manager's game plan not working. In a lot of the games recently, and I am only talking about home games, we seem to be found out either very early in the game or soon after the restart. We ship in a goal and then it is heads dropping, tackles not being made and passing comes under pressure and becomes woeful.
"the natives became restless as the chants against Hignett echoed around the ground"

Today’s game looked promising as changes were made after the four nil drubbing in the cup last week and at least it looked as if the manager was actually playing people in their best positions. After an even start Pools looked to be doing ok, playing some good football in spells and pegging the visitors back in their own half. Sadly it was going the way of a lot of our recent games, good approach play from the back but breaking down in the last third. Some tidy football was let down by a wasted ball, hit either too short or too long, or the attacker would lose out in a tackle on the edge of the box, which brings into question the work done on the practice ground.

We fluffed a couple of chances when the keeper dropped a Deverdics cross on his line, and Toto missed with a header over the bar. Toto had a great battle all afternoon with the biggest lad on the field Ikepeasu who was not the best footballer I have ever seen but he was mauling our defenders all day shoving an pushing them around. Late in the game we should have had a penalty after he had hold of Billy round the neck in the box but Mr Boyeson bottled it, although I think Billy spends too much time on the ground, which makes the officials ignore his pleas.

The visitors packed their defence and broke quickly and almost caught us out before Carson made a great save to thwart the attack. Just before the break the visitors were given a penalty after Toto followed a defender into our box, I have no argument with the decision as a tackle was made and it was a touch heavy. I would argue with the rushed foul that led to the goal but we have to learn to be alert to the quick ball. Berry, who scored all the goals against Coventry last week really laced into the shot but Carson, going down to his right post, managed to block the ball and it was cleared. Carson was injured in the dive but carried on, possibly a spell to take the sting out of the game but Pools just don’t do that do they?

Early in the second half the other Pools team decided to sit back and after one save, one block and three shots, we were a goal down. Pools were visibly shaken by that goal and we looked to be all over the place once again. A second goal followed soon after and Pools managed a shot over the bar. The third one came from a corner and the natives became restless as the chants against Hignett echoed around the ground, and with twenty-five minutes still on the clock half the crowd had left the stadium. For the first time in my memory I saw the Ditchburn Poolie, the staunchest of supporters, leaving the ground a full ten minutes early. He did don a disguise but sadly for him he missed the last goal that made it a five nil rout.

I could not really pick a man of the match in this game and I never heard any announcement but the truth is none of them deserved the accolade. Let's hope that the squad will not be so benevolent on Boxing Day, by which time Mr Hignett may no longer be in charge.