Home and Away


One can almost write a match report on Pools without even attending a game or reading or seeing any post match media coverage on it.

Home match: Away team starts time wasting 25 second after the game has started. Pools begin ponderously and slowly passing the ball from side to side and back to the keeper. Pools are now playing like an away team with a lone striker up front ...when I say a lone striker, I am not talking about someone like Jack Thorne, who we have brought in on loan, but with one man up front. Twenty five minutes pass of Pools huffing and puffing about, getting nowhere and our midfield is AWOL. In a Road to Damascus moment it suddenly dawns on the away side that Pools aren't exactly the Manchester United of the National league and start taking the game to Pools and pin them in their own half, peppering the goal and putting in crosses and shots from all angles. Scott Loach once again pulls off a couple of stellar ...as opposed to Stella saves to keep Pools level at half time.

Second half begins. Pools once again start slowly and their opponents seem to have more of the ball. On a break Pools sneak a goal and then have to defend like their lives depended on it. Pools sit back deeper and deeper giving cause for concern to what's left of the National Coal Board that they may disturb old subterranean mine shaft workings as they are now playing so deep. Playing on the break Pools either hang on for a win or a draw but in any event our opponents miss a glorious chance right at the last gasp to snatch a draw or all three points. Pools either win one nil or draw one all.
"The last ten minutes is spent defending our goal as if it was the Alamo."

Here is a a quote from Gary Owers, the Torquay Manager,  after his team's defeat by Pools, which Craig Harrison and Nicky Featherstone should take note of. “We didn’t really look good chasing the game. We started passing the ball sideways and back to the goalkeeper instead of forward, which you shouldn't do, especially playing at home''. He could have also added "and not have eleven men back in our box when defending corners".

Generally away from home it goes something like this: Pretty much under the cosh from the off. Team looks disjointed and defence looks edgy. Scott Loach pulls off a couple of his customary world-class saves to keep Pools in the game. After thirty five minutes Pools have their one and only shot at goal which, although on target, rolls safely into the keeper's hands.

Second half: Pools slowly get into the game and create more chances. To their credit the Pools players are grafting hard for each other and sneak a goal. The last ten minutes is spent defending our goal as if it was the Alamo. Pools win by a solitary goal or earn a solitary point with a solitary goal. (Prior to the Torquay game Pools' record read: Played 17 Goals for 17 Goals against 17). At the end of the match a Hartlepool player leaves the field injured and we don't see him again for a couple of months.

In short, what I am saying is that Pools, whilst not playing too badly, have been riding their luck and have not exactly set the league alight or put the fear of God into our opponents. For all that, Pools are only three points away from a play off place. As yet no team is running away with the title. For a time Dover Dagenham and Macclesfield looked as if they were going to go off at a pace but all three have been pegged back by inconsistent form, which suggests to me that this is a poor league, even worse than the one that we should not have dropped out of.

The optimist in me is saying that with some minor tweaking (Deverdics and Munns in midfield for example) Pools will at some stage get their backsides moving and slip up into fourth gear and when that happens I think there is the possibility of picking up the title. The next best thing would be a play off spot.

On one worrying note, Pam Duxbury, Craig Harrison and some of the players have mentioned the play off's in several media interviews. I am hoping that they have not given up already on becoming National League Champions and winning the first piece of silverware in the clubs history. I can to a point understand talk of the play-offs and should Pools get promoted that way all well and good, The finanicial rewards to the club would be be greatly enhanced rather than going through the route of automatic promotion. It is a massive risk to take if the play-offs are indeed the club's target. To my mind they should only be used as a fall-back if we fail to secure automatic promotion at the first attempt.

The consequences of failure in the play-offs do not bear thinking about. One season in the National League is a bit of a novelty but any more than that would be Hell.