Hignett's Days Numbered?

Report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 0 Grimsby 1 (League 2) Saturday January 7th 2017

Almost the nearest thing we have to a Derby game as the visitors reportedly sold a thousand tickets. It looked impressive in the Rink end, something we rarely see these days since that other big Northeast club paid a visit. A shame they are now three divisions below us despite making it back to their hometown after a few years exiled. 

One report says they have hung on to their “TIN SHED” which apparently is now their lucky charm. One ex-Poolie now making his mark for the Quakers says the sound and atmosphere coming from their fans is better than that of Old Trafford or even the Kop. No, I won't name and shame him - suffice to say he has a twin brother.

Today we had Grimsby Town who have also gone through a transition in recent years and were sitting six points above us at the start of play. They won the toss and used the advantage of the slope in the first half and it was a brisk start to the game, putting a little early pressure on us.

Pools settled and started to hold Grimsby and the new lad Kavanagh looked a handy player, going for the line and getting most of his crosses in, but once again we lack the people to be more alert in the follow up. To be fair Paynter was inches short of sliding a Kavanagh cross in, but as the old saying goes "You get nowt for nearly". Bartlett, deputising for Carson, made a very good save from a low shot that was on target.

At the other end Woods had a shot blocked and a corner was given. When the corner came over, a striker defending the Grimsby goal literally slapped the ball down to control it before it was cleared. Mr Drysdale and his assistant on the Mill House side were both looking the other way, much to the annoyance of more than half the Pools fans in the Vic who spotted it. But we should not criticise the officials as they are above the laws of the game.

Grimsby were up for the fight and it was looking like a decent game as both teams went for it. Pools were playing some decent football but once again it petered out around the visitors' box. Whether it was the extra touch we always seem to need or good defensive work I can never work out, but I think it is the latter. We are shot-shy in attack and as we have seen recently too many shots over the top might be a factor in the way we approach the game, looking as if we are trying to walk the ball in. Having said that you have to give credit to the visitors, in your face every time a ball was played up and we played right into their hands. When getting nowhere we were back to launching again and if Grimsby missed the first ball they invariably picked up the second ball and broke in numbers. Mr Drysdale once again ignored a Pools player getting wiped out but instantly blew for a foul by Featherstone as one of their players overran the ball and fell down. Well done the wall in this instance.
"Hignett... is the one that must get us motivated and start to show some positives, otherwise his days may be numbered"

As the visitors prepared to take a corner there was an incident in the goalmouth where Donnelly was floored but no action taken, as it was a red shirt which contained the offender. The best chance of the half fell for Pools after a great ball down the middle from Woods, who found Amond running into the box one-on-one with the keeper, who made a good save. The goal seemed to come from nothing in a similar situation when a Grimsby attacker latched onto a ball over the top, found himself one-on-one with Bartlett and slotted the ball past him to take the lead.

You might be able to forgive the officials of one misdemeanour in the hurly-burly of a game but for the same two officials to miss a second handball in their box by the same players smells a bit fishy to me and it was not from Grimsby.

Paynter had a shot over the bar just on the break but once again our finishing let us down. It seems like we had a decent half despite official blunders and poor finishing so we expected the second Pools team to come out for the second half but surprisingly despite kicking up the slope they did ok. We were not launching the ball and I do not remember Bartlett kicking the ball from hand as we rolled the ball out and started to build from the back thus keeping possession.

A combination of Hawkins and Featherstone came close to an equaliser but all we got was a corner that was cleared easily. Pools were now playing some football, not hoofing, and it looked as if the visitors were getting pegged back by their efforts. A succession of changes again seemed to upset our form and Paynter was taken off after jarring a knee.

Oates, who I think should be a starter up front rather than on the wing, and Alessandra did little to change our luck and the game was gone, sadly to a sloppy first-half goal that many of the pundits in the ground considered was offside, and with the fact that we had two penalty claims turned down, it was a bad day at the office.

One comment on the crowd of 4388 was that if the visitors brought a thousand where were the Pools fans today? One fan in the Town End was seen stood on the guard rail early in the match trying to whip the multitude of moaners into a frenzy and was later seen berating the fans for not getting behind their team. I can agree with his sentiment but surely they have to give us something to sing about.

At the end of the game there were lots of calls of "Hignett out", and ultimately he is the one that must get us motivated and start to show some positives, otherwise his days may be numbered. Not that I totally agree with those sentiments, as there seems to be more to this saga.

One rumour today was that we are about to sign Gary Liddle, who could be a good signing, but from what I hear lately he is a big favourite of Keith Curle at Carlisle so that may be the choice.