Showing posts from September, 2018
The Season So Far


Owing to some PPP. (P--- poor planning) on the holiday front I managed to miss Pools' first two home games of the season. Thanks to the internetty thing I was able to keep in touch and read from afar the match reports of all the games that I had missed and whilst at that stage we had not won any matches the Mail was telling us that already things are looking a lot better than last season and that Pools should be in the thick of it at the end of the season. I recall that same paper telling its readers that after the opening game of the season which Pools lost at home to Dover that fans shouldn't press the panic button as there were 45 games left to play.Then as the season progressed it was down to 25 games then 14 and finally dwindled to four games, not to ensure the league title or indeed the play offs but National League survival.

With that in mind I got to The Vic early for the Maidenhead game with the intention of asking my Poolie Friends / Pals / Chorbers / Rarfs / Old codgers and Ne'er-do-wells what was the view from the terraces, or was the Mail talking out the back of its stop press? To quote Eric Morecambe basically I was asking 'What do you think of it so far?' With one exception (one regular who was not present and who had, I am told, already given up on Pools after only two home games saying 'Different players, same old rubbish'. Everyone else I spoke to more or less concurred that we have better players but as a team they have not as yet gelled together or dominated matches and allow the opposition into the game. Pretty much like last season in some respects.

The universal opinion held by all was that even though he had yet to play in a winning side or a side which kept a clean sheet, Andrew Davies is already a candidate for the player of the year and his recent injury is a massive blow, not only for his dominance in both penalty areas, but also for the loss of his experience and leadership qualities on the field of play. From what I saw of him pre-season I would not disagree with this and hope he returns to the side sooner rather than later. I can't help but be happy with the result against Maidstone but the performance itself was far from convincing and in truth Pools did well to hold on to their slender lead.

"If Matty Bates can carry out some fine tuning, some teams are likely to get a good battering"
First impressions of the new signings are positive and they seem to be of a better quality than those that Craig Harrison brought in this time last season. The sluggish starts and finishes to matches might be a case of their taking time to gell as a group as well as coming to terms with and adapting to the 3 5 2 system the manager has introduced.

The following home game against the title favourites Chesterfield was a real test of character especially with the height in their squad and their manager's experience at this level. Even though the Spireites (sounds like a soul singer's backing band) had only one tactic, that of the long throws of Sam Muggleton, which put me in mind of his namesake, a SAM surface-to-air missile, such was the distance and speed his throws achieved. By comparison Ryan Donaldson's throws were like a girl (can I say that?)

The game itself was as good as I have seen in many a season and Pools should have been out of sight by the interval but once again we had to hang on in there as we defended yet another precarious single goal advantage.

So what of Pools so far. At home we are creating plenty of chances but not tucking as many away as we all would like. The midfield looks a lot healthier with Liam Noble running things and wanting the ball all the time thus allowing Nicky Featherstone to go into uncharted waters further up the field and. ..score goals! Nico Muir, Luke James and Peter Kioso so far have been the pick of the bunch. I though Kioso would be a fringe player but he belies his youth and looks as if he has been playing for years.

I am not sure how much punishment Muir and James can take over a full season, more so when they are having to cope with long balls being punted up to them with their backs to defenders and to that end I feel that on occasion we should have a big man up front to take some of the flak off them whilst dishing out some of his own flak as well.

Bates should consider alternating Pools' style of play and instead of hitting long high predictable balls to the front two, also play ball to feet, as with their pace defenders would hate to see Muir and James running directly at them.

Another worry is that with one exception so far this season Pools have only kept one clean sheet. Brutal as it may sound, once fit, Andrew Davies should be put straight back into the side irrespective of how well Myles Anderson or Carl Magnay have been playing.

It will be of interest to see who makes way for Luke Williams once he is fully fit. A word on Ryan Donaldson. By his own admission he did not have the best of seasons last year, but It has got to be said he is starting to settle into his new role as a wing back and has done well so far. With luck he could prove to be as good as a new signing.

In summing up so early in the new campaign, I don't think it would be unfair to say that home and away Pools have not played to their full capabilities and are not running on full steam as yet. That said they are grinding out results even against teams that they are expected to beat which at this stage last season was not the case. If Matty Bates can carry out some fine tuning, some teams are likely to get a good battering which in turn will see Pools regain Football League status.


Did I hear this right. Wrexham have been in the National league for ten years. Shocking when one comes to think about it. Let's hope by the end of the season it will be eleven years.

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At Last, Doses of the Trots!!


Before the Barrow game, it was four wins on the trot; including the Barrow game, it's six games unbeaten on the trot. What a change from last season where we were wondering where the next points were going to come from. Even Lady Luck shone down on us when Barrow missed their penalty. It's all coming together and there’s confidence in the air. Very little moaning on social media, except, of course, when it comes to referees.

For me – and many others – the highlight of the run was the win against Chesterfield. A hard side who bullied us throughout the game, we defended as though our lives depended on it. I think everyone stayed back to applaud the players at the end of the match. Even in the Barrow game, Poolies applauded the effort that was made. We have a defence that can dig in and whilst we could be scoring more goals, there is now a desire to ‘shoot on sight’ – typified by Nicky Featherstone’s goal against Chesterfield. Last season, a midfielder with the ball in the penalty box would have put it out wide only for the resultant cross to be cleared.
"We have a defence that can dig in and whilst we could be scoring more goals, there is now a desire to ‘shoot on sight’"

After the Barrow game, I looked up the table and , glory be, Harrogate Town are top of the league. Maybe our 2-2 draw against them wasn’t too bad after all. The point has been made that with the exception of Harrogate Town most of our games have been against teams near the bottom. Yet, it was precisely these teams who overcame us last season, particularly at home.

Mention has been made of our defence and the plaudits have been made many times to Peter Kioso. As well as being an outstanding defender, I think one of his main attributes is his recovery when beaten by the opposing wide man. The one player who stood out for me in the Barrow game was Mark Kitching. OK, he didn’t play a blinder but did everything he had to – defending and going forward. I like the look of him.

Unfortunately, I have a confession to make. I missed the game against Maidenhead due to being away in Whitby for a few days. The break was arranged before the fixtures came out – a dangerous thing to do. However, it so happened that on the Sunday Whitby Town were holding a Gala Day. ‘Fancy going?’ I said to my better half. The reply was a definite veto – footy was out whilst we were on holiday – except ringing my grandson to see how Pools had got on. His reply sure got the holiday off to a great start.

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Something to Build on


A steady as we go start to the season which is as good as we can have expected.

Sixth place in the league after the horrors of the last few years is indeed progress and it could have been even better if some late goals hadn't given away points.

And this is with five of last season's losers, Loach, Magnay, Donaldson, Xavi and Woods still getting a place in the team. Andy Davies, Luke Williams and Marcus Dinanga in for Magnay, Xavi and Woods and we may be getting there.

Our main concern is as usual not enough goals from our strikers. Its alright for Liam Noble to score a few penalties and even Xavi to get on the scoresheet, which shows the mediocrity of this league, but we meed the front men to weigh in. It is doubtful Luke James is going to get many as he has never been a prolific scorer.

Surely it is time to give Dinanga a few games up front as what little we have seen of him looks promising. I hope we are not going down the Tubby Turner route of loan signings where we bring them in and leave them on the bench.

This tends to piss of the parent club off and make them think twice about lending us anymore players.
"Sixth place in the league after the horrors of the last few years is indeed progress"

Talking of Tubby Turner I see there has been a talk-in arranged with the guy. Of all the ex-players and managers we have had, and some real characters among them, this guy would be about number 999 on the list of would-be participants. Dour Yorkshireman personified. Maybe he could get Ken Hodcroft to join him and they could call themselves the Two Clowns. The admission price of £5 entry says it all. And that is including a meal.

The club are trying to get all the fans' groups to work together to help out. This includes the Trust, Friends Group, Supporters' Association and Disabled Supporters' Group. I wish them all the best in hoping that lot can work together. I will believe it when I see it. There are a few oddballs in there who like nothing more than a bit of aggro.

The signing of Luke Williams is a real statement of intent by Raj Singh. A real footballer who won't have come cheap and I am looking forward to what he can bring to our midfield. Some forward looking and forward thinking, none of the old sideways shuffle or back pass to the keeper. At last a midfielder who can create something and weigh in with a goal or two. I think he and Liam Noble will be the best midfielders in the National League. Now if we can send Xavi and Woods back to Harrogate and take their striker Dom Knowles in exchange we can really get the top spot in our sights.

I would like to know what Josh Hawkes has done wrong to be completely out of the picture. Not even on the subs' bench for some games this season. It must be very frustrating for the boy, who was playing so well at the back end of last season, to be completely overlooked this time around, while a grossly inferior, overweight guy is waddling around in midfield. I wouldn't go so far as to say tackling as he couldn't tackle a fish supper.

One guy showing a big improvement this season is Ryan Donaldson. Last season he seemed to have an attitude problem and wasn't trying, but this seaon at wing back he has looked the part and is one of our better players. And Liam Noble has been all we expected and more. Just the type of player we have been missing for years - an experienced pro who likes a tackle and is immense in this league.

Finally a word for our much maligned scouting system. A pat on the back for whoever discovered those two excellent signings Peter Kioso and Niko Muir and persuaded them to come up north. Who knows, Marcus Dinanga could be equally as good if he is ever given a chance to show what he can do.

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Funny Old Game

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Money Laundering


No exact figures have been revealed as to what the naming rights to the Vic have cost Sky Sports but the word substanial has been used. Added to that Camerons Brewery are back on board and Joseph Parr's builders merchants from over in Teesside have also have signed hefty sponsorship deals with the club to name but two.

Sell-on clauses for the likes of Lewis Alessandra and Toto Nsiala could over a period of time boost the club coffers to near on £100k. Paying up Jack Munns contract has been financially beneficial to both the player and more importantly to the club. Pools have 2800-plus season ticket holders so any gate higher than this is bringing in additional cash through the turnstiles. Based on the first four home games our average gate is 3375 which I estimate has so far brought in the region of £30k to the club. If as we all hope Pools have a successful season the attendances will continue to rise thus generating much needed revenue for the club.
"If as we all hope Pools have a successful season the attendances will continue to rise"

On the down side our parachute payments have been halved. The playing squad is the same size as it was last season, bigger than those of many League Two clubs. The hoped-for sale of the three transfer-listed, high-earning players at the club has yet to materialise and lets's not forget the elephant in the room - the outstanding debts the club has to clear with John Blackledge's Sage Investments. Pools fans can only hope that this additional income stream is and will be managed wisely for both the short- and long-term benefit of the club.

The club made an excellent first step in re-engaging with its supporters by holding an open day to coincide with the team's photo shoot. To keep that connection alive I feel it would be a worthwhile exercise by the club to keep the fans 'on board' by giving regular updates of the state of play regarding the club's finances and how it is progressing behind the scenes - even if it's just to reassure the fans that the laundry bill has been paid!

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Forty Years


A few weeks ago my old mate Henry died. For over forty years we used to go out drinking most Friday nights, and talk mostly about football. And about once a season, despite being an Arsenal fan he'd go with me to a Pools away match anywhere not too far from our South Midlands homes - Cheltenham, Kidderminster, Walsall, Coventry, West Brom, Northampton, Wycombe and the like.

This week we entertained Henry's widow to Sunday lunch. And she brought with her some old Pools programmes Henry collected on our travels, mostly from the 70s and 80s. And they reminded me that this launch weekend for Monkey Business he would have been joining me for Pools' game at Solihull, which, at 18 miles, is the closest Pools have ever played to my home, ironically since I moved south from Solihull in 1975.

However, looking though those programmes made me look through my own and one caught my eye from the Pools-Darlo derby of Good Friday 1981, which featured a lineup including Phil Brown, Andy Linighan, Keith Houchen and Roy Hogan for Pools with David Speedie and Alan Walsh playing for Darlo.

That programme was a bit of a mess visually but it was more of a "read" than many of the time with their "Reserves notes" and "Supporters' Club News" sections that nobody ever read.

And in there, under the headline "Pool Patter" (in the days when "Pool" was still trying to become the accepted nickname), was this reminiscence of a match from forty years ago that many will no doubt still remember:
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Couldn't beat Harrogate? REALLY?

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Harrogate Town 2 (National League)
Tuesday 7 August 2018
Victoria Park

Pools v Harrogate in our first home game of this new season. Harrogate Town, REALLY? How times have changed. This Snooty North Yorkshire genteel Earl Grey tea sipping town has a football club?. I only ever went to Harrogate when the wife wanted a posh shopping trip. Sadly the last time I was there I found it to be far from posh. Just as run down as a lot of other small towns, due to lack of investment etc., the shops especially, are what you would see in any town now, so that should save me a visit, Although it could become a derby game for us.

Our pitch in the newly sponsored Sky Bet Super Six Stadium looks as it always does, superb. To top all that new investment the crowd is back too. 3623 with 187 visitors in the away end. Harrogate are going to have to do better than that if it is going to become a derby game.

OK it is only the second game of the season but Manager Bates has to get his selection right soon. One of the criticisms I heard yesterday was, you bring in a lad who has scored goals for fun and you play him out on the wing. We were playing five at the back yesterday which was probably a tad cautious. Having said that Harrogate were a decent outfit which surprised a lot of people. I was expecting us to thrash the genteel tea drinkers by at least six nil. Nothing like a bit of confidence at the start of a new season. After a very brief spell we were on the back foot struggling to hold them and two players in particular, no 4 and no 8 were running the show and looked really dangerous on the break. I would not say it was panic stations but when you see the ball continuing to come straight back at us you know there is a problem. Once again Loach was the busiest of the two keepers on the day. An early chance fell for Cassidy who hit the keeper and a great run by Magnay caused problems when his cross was hit three times at the keeper before it was cleared.

Donaldson does not look comfortable as a wing back yet he made a fantastic run with the ball from the edge of our box down the newly named Neale Cooper stand, getting chopped half way and still getting up to continue the run and sent in a great cross for Featherstone, who hit the keeper with his shot.

Loach made some good saves as Town put more pressure on us and we back-pedalled, one in particular when he dived at the feet of an attacker and then managed to lunge and scoop the ball off his foot to prevent a goal. We were lucky to go in without a goal against after a torrid spell in the first half.

It looked as if we meant business at the start of the second half, kicking down the slope to the Town end. Noble who looks a gem of a find was spraying cross field balls down the pitch to Kitching who also looks like a very good addition. Luke James looks like he has never been away and is now a stronger player who never gives up chasing. had a hand in the Pools first goal setting up Noble and Muir was there to head home his cross. The visitors played some real good football to get them selves even with a easy tap in.

Magnay seems to be playing some good stuff maybe because he was released from the job as captain the radio boys at the Maidstone game were raving about him and today he was a candidate for my M.O.M, he played a great ball in that found Cassidy with so much space in front of goal that I thought he must be offside but he took his goal well giving Pools the lead again. Davies man who took over the captain’s job has been immense in the pre season games and was the star of the defence today, he looks as if he could play at a higher level.
"we need to be more savvy in dead ball situations"

One criticism was the equalising goal right at the death and Pools got it all wrong just packing the goalmouth for the ball to be lobbed in which it was and headed home, OK that happens but it was noticed by the Ditchburn that when we had a corner to defend we never left anyone up the field whereas when the visitors had a corner they left players up the field drawing Pools defenders away from their box, we need to be more savvy in dead ball situations.

Overall I would say we were worth a point but a draw was fair but the visitors will think they dropped two points after a very good performance.

We look a tidy side ourselves and this unbeaten run is a far better start than last season, but we still have some whingers even at the first home game of the season. Rubbish one bloke was shouting and my response was think your self lucky we still have a team to SUPPORT.

Rumour and facts from the terrace:
Woods off to MK DONS and a possible “BIG” signing coming soon.

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Strugglers Again

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 0 Ebbsfleet 1 (National League)
Saturday 11 August 2018
Victoria Park

The early euphoria after the home game last week when we played well and got a draw with the tea slurpers of Harrogate went flying out of the window just after half time today, when we once again looked like the team of last season - strugglers against an average side. 

Having said that we have played Ebbsfleet three times now and been beaten three times so we have to hope it is a blip.

After the opening salvos we settled and looked to get on top of the visitors but I could tell the Ditchburn Poolie had taken a whinge pill instead of his medication as he kept harping on about us not having a reserve side this season. It had not dawned on me the significance of this but long-term the Ditchy could be right i -if we have unhappy players not getting in the starting line up, training could be quite boring.

We looked comfortable and put quite a bit of pressure on them but once again the old lack of goals when playing well would come back to haunt us. Luke had a cracking shot early on that was blocked, Davies shot one across the goal and McLaughlin made a weak attempt when he was free in front of the goal. An Ebbsfleet winger fancied his chances but his one-trick step-over seemed a little exaggerated. He managed a shot close in that Loach smothered but it was heading for the side netting anyway.

Early in the second half we lost Davies and he was replaced by Laing and it became a harder task for the mis-firing Pools to make any real inroads against the visitors.
"despite a brief rally by Pools, we looked like the team of last season."

They snatched a goal on the break and despite a brief rally by Pools, we looked like the team of last season. I think their keeper only made two saves all day. Comments that we may have missed Featherstone upset the Ditchburn but it is more than that. OK its early days but a bit disappointing; with the squad we have we were expecting more. Ebbsfleet won more away games than anyone last season so we need more than hope to keep the 3500 fans turning up.

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Ye Shakespearean Sit-comme

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A Game of Two Halves

Match report by ALAN ESSEX

Braintree Town 1 Pools 1 (National League)
Saturday 14 August 2018
Cressing Road

There are some industries and corporations that have dominated an area to the extent of being major employers. Ford’s production of cars and vans at Dagenham, ICI chemicals at Billingham, Nuclear Fuel reprocessing at Sellafield, Moorcroft potteries in Stoke and Oxfam’s procurement of prostitutes in Haiti and Chad.

Braintree lays claim to being the home of Crittall, manufacturers of steel window frames. These window frames have been used extensively worldwide but notably in this country on buildings such as The Houses of Parliament, The House of Lords, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and the once home of Hartlepool United supporter Wallace and Gromit who informed me that they were useless as they corroded badly in the East Anglian murk and as a result could not be painted.

I used to live but a few miles away from Braintree (in Great Dunmow), I used to shop in Braintree, had a lock up garage in Braintree for my Morris Minor convertible, the band I play in regularly plays in Braintree and I used to drive through Braintree en-route to Witham where I was working for a few years. In all this time I had never seen any sign of a football ground – no floodlight pylons, no street signs, nothing. Fortunately, through a combination of sat-nav and the aforementioned Wallace and Gromit, who lives just a Hugh Robertson free kick away, I found the ground, placed behind some Art-Deco houses along a road I had driven down hundreds of times.

The ground is real grass roots, surrounded by trees on 3 sides, the other side backing onto the gardens of the art deco homes. There was no supporter segregation and you could walk around the whole ground and stand / sit where you wanted. There are just 2 covered areas – one with seats that holds just over 500 and one opposite which is small and standing only. The capacity stands at 4,222, there were only 606 in attendance for this game. As there were no separate turnstiles for away supporters it’s difficult to know how many Poolies were there but judging from the replica kits on show it was a good turnout boosted by many southern based supporters. I’d say they made up at least a fifth of the crowd.

You’ve probably all read the match reports and team line ups so I’ll just give my take on things. Pools started very brightly and there were only a couple of occasions I can remember in the first half that had Braintree in our penalty area, they had no shots on target and didn’t look like getting any. Despite Myles Anderson in the line up Pools played with just 3 at the back with Magnay at centre and Kioso and Kitchen either side. Anderson and Donaldson played wide in midfield with Noble and Woods as attacking midfielders and Featherstone in the holding role, while up front were Nico Muir (who is surely the love child of Nico from the Velvet Underground and Frank Muir, debonair comedian) and Luke James.
"it came as no surprise, following a couple of close efforts, when they equalised through Bettamer in extra time."

In the 9th minute Luke James was cynically fouled when clear on goal resulting in an early penalty, Noble ,who was captain, took the kick himself and although well placed, their keeper Ben Killip saved well, low to his right-hand side. A harsher referee could have sent off their defender as James was clear on goal. Having said that the referee and his assistants had good games - a rarity at this level.

The 25th minute saw Pools get the least that their endeavours deserved with a great move starting with Donaldson, who was having a very good game, passing to Noble, crossing for Kitchen to tee up Muir for his second goal for the team. For the whole first half Pools played some exciting and highly entertaining football – some great passing, winning possession in midfield, pinpoint passing, great movement – all a joy to watch. Their keeper, Killip, was in good form and deserved his team's man of the match award. No one could fault anyone in the Pools side, or the way the team was set up. All that was needed was a second goal to take off what little pressure there was.

It does have to be said that Braintree were terrible and I cannot think we will face a worse side. They were so bad that their manager, Brad Quinton, an ex-player of theirs with over 500 appearances, kept them on the pitch for the beginning of the half time break – he was not a happy man.

And so to the half time break – most supporters took advantage of the ‘free travel arrangements’ in the ground and swapped ends or positions. Make the most of it, it will probably end when Brexit kicks in and you will need to show your Poolie passports!

The second half was a different game. The transition took a while but Pools' influence was waning and Braintree grew in confidence as so often happens when teams in the ascendency don’t kill a game off. There was some good work between Muir and James – they seem to have quickly found a good understanding and both have good skills on the ball and find good passes that confuse the defence. But as I said, Braintree were coming back into the game. This forced a change in the Pools defence with Donaldson playing right back and Kioso moving inside as a further centre back, albeit an adventurous one.

Pools still had chances to kill the game off but Woods missed a couple of chances, one especially that he should have got, and Kioso had a strong header from a corner just wide. The game was now going in Braintree’s favour and it came as no surprise, following a couple of close efforts, when they equalised through Bettamer in extra time.

A frustrating game as we should have had it all sewn up at half time. We showed we are well equipped to play some good football, albeit against poor opposition. I don’t think it was fitness that did for us, just not coping with Braintree’s change of style and increased enthusiasm. I thought Kioso was good, Muir better than my expectations but Donaldson was my Poolie man of the match, having had to defend, play in midfield and support the attack. His attitude, sometimes questioned in the past, was exemplary.

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Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Maidenhead 1 (National League)
Saturday 18 August 2018
Victoria Park

A chance for the lads to give us a lift today as the visitors were in a worse position than we are, one point from the games so far. 

I had been so confident against Harrogate - we got whupped - then the draw on Tuesday did not help after Pools led all the game then threw it away again on a dead ball situation.I spoke to the lads around me and kept a straight face when I predicted three points today. I am not superstitious but the last two home games I went in the left-hand turnstile so today I swapped sides and at the last two games I had given H’Angus a slap on the nose for luck, but today I pulled his left ear - at least I thought I had but he told me that I had used my left hand and pulled his right ear, so just to double my chances I went and pulled both his ears. See - you should never try and get one over the simian!

A good sign was the unchanged team and we won the toss, and made a decent start. The first attack from the visitors won a free kick wide of the box and Loach made a great job of pushing the ball over the bar; it looked as if it had started life as a cross and the wind held it up making it difficult for Loach to make a clean save. A speculative shot from Kitchen seemed to surprise their keeper who blocked his effort but the resulting corner was too long. It was end to end in the first half with some shocking tackling, if you could call it that, from the visitors.

I suppose we have to get used to this type of fare down here in the dog-end of the Football League; is it too much to expect the officials to protect players as this was a shocker. At times it looked more like a Friday night rumble in Church Street after closing time than a sporting contest between gentlemen. It also has to be said that we really must stop hoofing the ball up the field to possibly the smallest striker in the league as he takes some awful stick from the giants of the league; he is like a tiger in the challenge but like a rag doll at times as he gets thrown to the ground by every player he side-steps.
"A good sign was the unchanged team and we won the toss, and made a decent start."

We are capable of playing some good football, the link between Muir, Luke and Kioso looks very good at times but it has to be fed to their feet not wasted in the long high ball.

Ryan Bird started for them but he looked too heavy and was subbed just after half time.

Second half started with a bang as Luke opened the scoring with a lovely low headed ball across the goal that had the keeper grasping at air. It was possibly that he caught the big defenders out cold at the start of the half. Loach played a quick ball down the line that Muir flicked onto Donaldson who sent in a low cross that Luke stooped to conquer, heading across the box into the net.

Featherstone made up for his earlier mistake by taking a great ball from Woods and chipping the keeper to make it two nil. A curious situation arose with ten minutes to go -  Pools were running the ball into the corners. I do not like that and neither do the fans who vented their anger at the spectacle; it only puts pressure on us. We managed to see it out but it was not pretty to watch.

There were some desperate decisions by a very poor official who seemed to let a lot go but only one way. Woods was booked after winning a ball and the defender actually jumped into him after the ball had gone. Late in the first half Luke was chasing a ball to the dead ball line at the Rink End and the defender grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head and not a word was said to the offender.

Once again defending a dead ball left us wanting and the visitors scored with a corner to the back post It. could be said that we had too many bodies in there as everyone was back and the ball was headed past Loach making it a desperate last ten minutes plus four injury time minutes added on.

There were some good performances and Kioso was Man-of-the-Match again. Donaldson had a better game as did even Anderson. Luke battled for everything and both Muir and Woods did very well. Featherstone had a blip again when he turned into his own half and was robbed of the ball causing pressure on the defence.

OK at the end of the day we have our first win in four but we really need to step up on this win and start to pressure teams at the Vic as they look as if they are turning up and have lots of confidence. We need a fortress Vic.

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Another Game of Two Halves

Match report by ALAN ESSEX

Dagenham and Redbridge 1 Pools 2 (National League)
Saturday 25 August 2018
Victoria Road

More lazy reporting warning: There are some industries and corporations that have dominated an area to the extent of being major employers. Braintree being the home of Crittall, manufacturers of steel window frames, ICI chemicals at Billingham, Nuclear Fuel reprocessing at Sellafield, Moorcroft potteries in Stoke. Dagenham’s great claim to fame is Ford’s, producer of cars and vans. 

Ilford in the heart of Redbridge was the headquarters of Plessey Electronics. Of course, Gary Coxall’s JPNG were based in Hainault, another part of Redbridge – but let’s not go there.

Dag and Red as they are affectionately known have an interesting history. They formed in 1992 as an amalgamation of Dagenham and Redbridge Forest. Dagenham formed in 1922. Redbridge Forest themselves were formed from 3 other amateur sides, Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue. All 3, founded in the late 19th century, succumbed to falling attendances combined with developers buying the grounds for well, development I suppose. In fact, all are now housing estates helping to serve the rapidly growing population of East London.

Well, let’s turn to the game. After the team's first victory of the season and being unbeaten away, expectations were high. The same side was announced for the 3rd game in succession - always a good sign to my mind. Ryan Catterick returned to the bench after his short loan spell at Guisborough Town. Dag and Red, managed by Peter Taylor, once the caretaker manager of England’s national side, have had a hard time of it recently having earned just 1 point from their 5 games. Like us they experienced financial problems last season and this has seemingly continued. Like us, I am sure they appreciate the ground belonging to the local authority.

It’s quite a homely ground, covered on 3 sides. It’s a shame they only had an attendance of 1212, of which 232 were Poolies. Tomi Adeloye was in the Dag and Red line up and proved to be quite a handful for the Pools defence especially in the first half. He had the first chance but was blocked by the resurgent Donaldson.

The first half was generally scrappy interspersed with occasional flowing moves. Muir and James continued their good understanding and the better moves involved these two. Noble was not having such a good game but didn’t put his head down and remained involved. Dag and Red took the lead after 36 minutes when Romain, who was having a good game, crossed low from the left wing and McQueen, unmarked, scored an easy goal. There were calls for offside but being behind the goal it was impossible to judge. It was a result of a quick break and slack defending; however, you can’t play an attacking formation and not have occasional defensive lapses.

In the second half Pools showed a marked improvement and it only took 3 minutes to get on level terms. Noble, showing an immediate reaction, crossed from the right with Woods meeting it and scoring after a deflection.
"In the second half Pools showed a marked improvement and it only took 3 minutes to get on level terms."

The lead came following a good passing movement from the left moving inside involving Kitching, Woods and Muir, leaving Noble to shoot. This was blocked by Goodliffe’s hand and the referee had no doubt in awarding a penalty. Noble, despite having had a penalty saved at Braintree, had no hesitation in getting the ball off Muir, who must have fancied his chances. This time Noble sent a good low penalty past Justham, the Dag and Red keeper.

Pools were now controlling the game and had several further chances with Muir, Woods, Kioso and Noble all having chances. In the last of the 5 minutes of extra time James hit the base of the post, having drifted in from the left.

So a good result that sent Dag and Red to the bottom of the division. They were not that bad but as we know confidence plays a big part in the game and theirs must be rock bottom.

A mention about the referee, Sam Allison; he was very good, let the game flow whenever possible, was fair, consistent and made the right decisions. The best ref I’ve seen for a long time – well done.

Hard to pick a man of the match, everyone contributed – Muir and James are a pleasure to watch and Woods shows so much determination, it’s infectious. Good to see that all the new players that have started settled in well and are an improvement on what has gone before.

I wonder who will make way for new signing Luke Williams.

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