Two Points Lost

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 0 Barrow 0 (National League)
Tuesday 04 September 2018
Victoria Park

When I see this fixture it always takes me back to my formative years, a blast from the past as you might say. 

OK we played Barrow last season and a Woods header at the Vic and a Magnay screamer at Holker Street gave us a double over them. The Barrow game today looked odds on for Pools to claim another three points and carry on the fine start we have made to the season. Then you have to add in 'sod's law!' Pools on a good run and visitors on the slide and all bets are off. Of course that was the Old Hartlepool, when we folded under the slightest pressure, this is the New Master Bates Hartlepool with the rejuvenated ‘Never say die’ attitude.

It took about thirty seconds to send a shudder of 'sod's law' down the spine as Barrow had a chance to take an early lead almost from the kick off. Pools were very lucky not to be a goal down within a minute of the start. An unchanged side for Pools looked impressive with some good football being played that just lacked the final touch or for the ball to drop for us, although the opposition looked a compact side with some resolute defending from the aptly named Granite who took no prisoners. They attacked in numbers and had a shoot on sight policy as well as some Mick McManus tackles that would have been more at home in a rugby league game. Donaldson, who is looking sharp, had a great run, leaving defenders in his wake but hitting the keeper with his shot.

Ok I complain about the officials every week and every week they get worse. I even saw the Ditchburn Poolie praying at one point after some shocking, blatant, one-sided decisions made by the man in the middle who obviously had asked his two line men not to get involved in the game. Noble was hacked to the ground in a two-footed off-the-ground tackle which apparently gave us an advantage. We all expected the ref to come back and take some action but he just carried on. Woods grabbed an arm of a passing player and was instantly booked. Luke was man-handled constantly and even when he made a run was deemed to be offside every time he left our half. This was a really tough old game of football where tempers flared, which was all down to the man in the middle not being up to the job.

The second hall went pretty much the same as the first with Luke getting out wide. He tried shots over the top and three times he went close with the keeper beaten, Niko was denied a couple of times as a cross from Donaldson was whipped away as the Pools man came in for the header and another cross was hit over the bar from close range.
"Two home points were thrown away today and in his own words 'We have not played the tougher teams yet.' "

In the second half the visitors looked as if they wanted in more then us, as we lost the midfield and our tactic of launching the ball for Nico or to Luke was just not good enough to threaten this side. It was more through their poor finishing and our own good luck that we were let off the hook after a good spell of pressure from them. I am not sure what happened as the penalty was given at the Rink End but Loach was incensed by the decision and went to confront the ref. Loach was bouncing up and down on his line as the shot was taken and it had the desired effect as the ball hit the bar and bounced back into play and was cleared by a very relieved Pools defence.

Pools had a glorious chance at the end when a run by Nico found some space wide of the box and sent in a beautiful low cross that was destined to be hit into the net by one of the two Pools men who arrived in the box but they both missed the opportunity to claim another three points.

Bates has to look at his options in these games as we need to change what isn’t working and take advantage of the fact that we can dominate some teams, yet we lack that final punch. Two home points were thrown away today and in his own words 'We have not played the tougher teams yet.'

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