What a Difference a Goal Makes

Report by Ken (THE DITCHBURN) Cairns at the ex-Vic

Pools 4  Crewe 0  (League 2) Tuesday February 28th 2017

Ah yes – Crewe Alex, one of our old adversaries from my 50+ years as a Pools follower. One stand out memory from previous clashes with Crewe springs to mind. In the early 70’s we played against a Crewe side featuring the great Stan Bowles. We were pressing the Alex hard during our best spell of the game when attention suddenly turned to our own penalty area.

Our defender Malcolm Dawes* did not take too kindly to some close attention from the aforementioned Stanley and protested quite firmly - and very physically. He decked him – and I bet over the coming years a lot of players he tormented would have wanted to do the same. So we were attacking, gave away a penalty, Mally got sent off, and we lost!

Roll forward to 2017. The first half was a very tense affair with Pools having to absorb the majority of the pressure. It was another half where our play was more akin to that expected from the away team, with Crewe seeming quite a capable outfit but unable to deliver a finish.
"After 40 minutes there was no way I could have predicted that final score."

A shot deflected off Donnelly hit Fryer's far post and rolled away – maybe our luck is turning. One bright spot from Pools was that from our limited amount of possession I was quite encouraged by our increased willingness to have a shot – something which we have lacked as of late. And on the stroke of half time a quick Pools move resulted in a priceless opener, with Alessandra first to react to a deflection in the Crewe 6-yard box. I thought we were second best for much of the half and looked upon this lead as an unexpected but welcome bonus.

I expected the team who scored the next goal to go on and win the game – players of both Pools and Crewe have a tendency to lose goals in clusters when their heads drop. We began the second half with a lot more purpose and were restricting Crewe to occasional breakaways. And with 20 minutes to go substitute Padraig Amond worked hard to create an opening which he finished well.

Pools fans were relieved and the players were now playing with a bit of freedom and confidence. On 85 minutes young Richardson surged into the penalty area and in the resulting confusion Alessandra finished well. In added time Pools made it four. Nathan Thomas wriggled through two or three weak tackles and slotted the ball past the keeper. Full-time: Pools 4 Crewe 0.

Scanning through our player performances – my Man of the Match – Brad Walker. Credit to Fryer, Harrison, Woods and Alessandra. Substitute Amond livened things up front. I thought Kenton Richardson had a pretty torrid first half but was much more comfortable in the second. I also think now is the time to give him a rest.

Ref-watch: Scary US Marine-Like short-arse Richard Clark made some very odd decisions for both teams. Thankfully none of them had an effect on the score so I allow him a relatively decent 5/10 overall.

After 40 minutes there was no way I could have predicted that final score. We looked frightened to commit ourselves – probably down to low confidence – and this was the pattern for long spells of the first half. Thankfully Crewe weren’t good enough to take advantage. Credit also to the lads at the back.

After the opening goal we looked a different team, midfielders much more proactive and attackers threatening. Next up – Exeter City, another of our long established rivals.

* mentioned elsewhere in this edition