Up a Bit for the Cup

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

South Shields 1 Pools 2 (FA Cup)
Saturday October 14th 2017
Mariners Park

Another first for Pools today as we go into the first round qualifying game, a tough game against South Shields,  aka The Mariners. Who have been on a fantastic run of fifty three games without a defeat. Although this fact does not include the other fact that they won the league last term and decided not to be promoted. Even so it takes a good team to make that kind of run in any division of football.

I don’t mind saying that I was worried about the game; we need some success even after our own run of one loss in nine it looked a daunting task as we travelled up the A19 to Mariners Park.

Only just over four hundred tickets for the Pools fans meant a seven o'clock start in the queue last Tuesday. At seven o'clock there were about twenty five people ahead of me in the queue, a couple of lads at the head of the queue had been there since two in the morning, With a handful of season tickets each it was reported that they collected fourteen tickets between them. OK it has been done before and will be the same next time but this system obviously has problems for others who are not able to queue for tickets due to circumstances. I am of the opinion that the system need changing and an allowance of four per person could help the fans who cannot queue during the working day and would aid families to get at least four tickets when needed.

Stories of people turning up after the ticket office had been open two hours and still passing tickets to friends stood in the queue, if true, are unfair on the people still queuing. I just hope that those who did queue were successful.

South Shields' tidy little ground nestles in the middle of a industrial park. We found a good parking place five minutes from the ground and made it in early to claim a spot at the fence just right of the goal. The ground had a small stand about the size of the one at Billingham Town with a club house and a dressing room block and another building that looks like it was a club with a verandah viewing area on the first floor. On the other side there were a couple of small covered terrace areas with just a couple of steps in them.
" The bigger insult was when Shields scored first and they chanted “Are you Darlo in disguise?” "

The four hundred plus Pools fans were given one of these stands and half of the area behind one goal. A ploy I thought as they wanted to be less effective in supporting our team. The gents toilets were first class. It was a strange atmosphere as the home fans applauded politely as the teams came out apart, from a couple of dozen in the other small small covered terrace which was segregated from the Pools fans. The dozen or so fans in the back of this terrace took great delight in hanging a couple of monkeys in the roof of their stand, which they probably thought was an insult to us. The bigger insult was when Shields scored first and they chanted “Are you Darlo in disguise?”

Once the game started all the doubt disappeared as the manager had made some changes and for the first twenty minutes it looked as if it was working. We played some canny football but never really threatened them, which has been the case for most of the season in the games I have seen.

Shields should have had a penalty when even from the far end you could see Harrison take down their striker in the box. I said last week that he is a liability as for most of the game he gets involved in unnecessary wrestling and today they seemed to play on this and it looked bad. I think we only had one decent shot in this spell and it was straight at the keeper.

Rodney went close when he flicked a ball up in the box but he never really had control of it and it went over the bar.The home team cheated the ref and were given a free kick after Arca feigned injury in a challenge. The ball was hoisted forward and defenders stood watching rather than challenging and as Harrison lost the ball they slotted a ball through the legs of Loach. They played the better football throughout the half and could have gone four up with some good shots and a couple of which rattled the Pools bar.

Half time brought out the moaners, "Harrison has no idea what he is doing", "He should be scattered", and most of the team came in for criticism as the Pools fans took out their anger on various players and formations. One critic said "Harrison is not going to change things as he has left out all the subs, Rodney should be off, Deverdics should be off". All of these football managers had their own combination of players they would like to see and Harrison was not given the lickings of a dog. Harrison then did his own thing and left the starters on, and it paid off.

Oates, who for me was Man of the Match, was involved in every attack and always gave 100 percent, charged into the box and connected with a Franks cross. His shot was blocked and up popped Rodney to gently roll the ball over the line to make it one-all. The second goal was a peach of a free kick from Deverdics after Oates was chopped down. The shot from well outside the box was majestic as it curled past the keeper into the net. The football managers on the terrace all fell silent around this time.

Shields came back strongly after going behind and they were making chances. Loach had to pull off a couple of decent saves and we could have blown it with a handball from Laing, who guided the ball out from a corner with his arm, which both the lino and the ref luckily missed. We then ran the clock down with some good running from Oates, Woods and Featherstone.

Hawkins took a card for the team when he brought down a man breaking free but he could do little else. Deverdics and Rodney, both having been heavily criticized at half time had just won a cup tie for us but I suppose if you pay your money you are allowed an opinion but most of the football managers should keep their opinions to themselves.