A Bit of Luck at the End

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Barrow 0 (National League)
Tuesday Oct 3 2017
Victoria Park

This fixture is a blast from the past, the old Third Division North possibly, but the Ditchburn Poolie reckons it was sometime in the seventies that they went out of league football.

A lesson for us all there.

It may be a bit churlish to criticise the Pools management team who have lost only one game in nine, but at tonight’s game we seem to have attracted a lot of angry fans now that we are playing non league football. Ok I can see they are dissatisfied with the relegation as we all are and the way it came about over the last five or six years, but the truth is once IOR pulled the plug we went into a decline that we may never get out of, and remember those same fans criticising IOR when they were in charge. To be fair they had a lot to complain about in the early part of this game.

This was another team we should have ripped apart, but we just could not apply any real pressure on them. We were scrappy, poor passing giving the ball away too easily and no real threat in their box. This team must have been low in confidence after a very poor run, yet tonight it looked as if they were going to be the better team and for a lot of the game they were the better side.

I have the opinion that the management at Pools have not yet worked out how to challenge these non-league football teams and our lack of goals when we are on top gives them the confidence to come at us and most of them are quite successful in exposing our weakness. According to the wireless prior to the game Harrison was going with three strikers from the start led by Rodney. In theory this sounds good but in practice to have a three man attack you have to have those three players actually linking up and threatening the visitors. Tonight this was not the case, Rodney is limited and as yet has not shown any real threat and to be fair is not getting the service that suits his game. There is no sense in pumping high balls to him as even if he wins a header there is no one close enough to feed off him. Every challenge he made tonight was with a marker clinging to his back and the officials at this level tend to ignore wrestling during the game. Play the ball to feet and let Rodney run is the only solution as he is fast, when he remembers to take the ball with him but service yesterday to him was awful.

Barrow's game plan was to hump high balls up, get in our faces in numbers and they won ninety percent of the second balls. They left one man up front even when we had corners and free kicks and at least three times during the game I saw him take on three Pools defenders all at the same time and easily slip away with the ball and threaten our goal. It was a good job for us that most of their shooting skills were missing tonight.
"in practice to have a three man attack you have to have those three players actually linking up and threatening the visitors"

As you know I never criticise officials unless it is warranted. Tonight’s shower has to be the worst lot we have seen this season; to a man they were bloody awful. In the first Barrow attack there were two fouls and a handball that was waved on, which allowed the offender into our box to shoot. I got the impression tonight that this ref was a cheat, looking at some of his decisions; strong words you might say but not when an official thwarts every attack we make on the edge of the box by instantly stopping the game for no apparent reason then allowing the visitors a free run every time, even overruling the lino at times. Maybe the ref did not trust the linos' judgement as he possibly only had one eye and could not see the whole of the pitch at the same time. There was a peculiar incident when the ref stopped the game and the fourth official was despatched to the dressing room. The Ditchburn commented that the doctor had been called but nothing seemed to be going on. The visitors took the chance to have a bottle party in their technical area so the Pools management sent out a couple of footballs and in no time both teams were having a kick about on the pitch. This break lasted a good ten minutes and when the fourth official emerged he took up the flag. At this time the crowd had started a slow hand clap to and a few choice phrases were hurled at the officials but it had little effect.

Apparently the lino who had gone off had a severe case of the “TROTTS” but as the Poolies said, he was full of S()!+ anyway. They thought he had injured his shoulder by the number of times he had flagged us offside.

We did make a few chances and Woods got in the way of a shot from Franks but he would have been offside anyway. Loach made a great dive early on to palm a ball away, a fantastic double block to thwart the visitors who broke fast in numbers. Deverdics was Man of the Match for me. He did waste a few crosses and free kicks but did test the keeper with a great shot late in the game. He is wanted at full back though. Donaldson went off on twenty five minutes with what looked like a sore ankle after a challenge. Oates came on and livened things up a bit with his height and pace and battled hard tonight. Magnay is a great leader on the pitch and often carried the attack, even having a couple of decent shots as well as some smart tackling in defence. Laing had a steady game but Harrison is becoming a liability as he seems to get upset too easily. He needs to concentrate on keeping his place rather than getting tangled up in meaningless scraps; he could have seen a red card after one tangle when he threw a player to the ground, which the ref missed. Hawkins had a quiet game but Featherstone looked to be the calming influence when we were under pressure and he too could have been Man of the Match. Franks had difficulty slipping his marker early in the game but never gave up. He and Deverdics found a lot more space late in the game and started to threaten the goal. Rodney was booked for a sliding tackle but no contact was made and the defender looked as if he was feigning injury to help the ref make the decision. He was taken off for Munns shortly after his second slide tackle in his desperation to get the ball.

The extra ten minutes gave us an advantage and we stepped up our attack far better than the visitors as we went for the win. Franks hit the post with a shot and it was a clinical cross this time from Deverdics that found the head of Woods who headed home in a crowded box. He deserved the goal for his performance and he too was a candidate for M-o-M. Nice to see Pools have that little bit of luck at the end of a hard fought game.