A Great Point

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Leyton Orient 1 (National League)
Saturday 9 February 2019
Victoria Park

Orient, still sitting in pole position by one point after a really tough game at the Vic, should think themselves very lucky tonight. 

The consensus after the game was that we had just witnessed the best game at the Vic for a couple of seasons. It was tough at times for both teams but Pools can take a big pat on the back for taking the league leaders to the wire. Orient were a good side, well drilled with some exceptional players and a handful of what is commonly known around here as a "worky ticket" - someone who pushes the boundaries to the limit where rules are concerned. There is a video on one of the websites showing three Orient players arguing with the official after the penalty was given for a foul on Luke James.

The Orient players even argued with the ref on where Noble had placed the ball. Even picking it up and placing it himself and all this was to unsettle Noble who had come on as a sub just before the break. It could be argued that Noble should have left the penalty alone having just come back after four games but even on the radio tonight he said if asked he would take the next one even though he has missed the last three, He also missed this one after the distraction but in his interview he did not take the excuse and said he thought he would be stepping down from that penalty job.

The game was end-to-end and Pools had the upper hand in the early stages, playing some good football and creating chances. Kabamba was a handful and Luke James, Amos and Molyneux were all taking the game to the visitors. It is great to see a Pools centre forward receive the ball and hold it up as his team mates come in to back him up and this is the role played by Kabamba. We were wondering how long we could hang onto a striker who has scored three goals in three games but the word on the terrace is that he wants to stay as he is enjoying first team football and has been a revelation for Pools.

Despite our early advantage we went a goal down on twenty minutes when a deflected shot went past Loach. The ball should have been cleared but once again we did not react quickly enough to close down a player. The gifted goal lifted the visitors and they started to play some very good football; it was backs-to-the-wall and the Pools defence were immense in cutting out the threat with a great number of blocks on the line as the visitors pushed forward looking for a second goal. They were literally two inches wide of the far stick after a corner from the Mill House side was headed on and Donaldson and an attacker both fortunately did not connect when either of them could have slid the ball home.

Luke James made a great run into the Rink End box and initially I was shouting for a penalty until Kabamba, who was down on the turf, was the first to react and he slid the ball home to level the score with his third in three games.

Noble replaced Molyneux, who had been left in agony on the pitch in the Pools half as the visitors controlling the game refused to put the ball out of play. Loach put the ball out once he got hold of it and attention was given to Molyneux, who had a deep gash in his leg. Oddly he was booked by the ref and no one seemed to know why. If he had committed a bookable offence the ref would have stopped the game and given a free kick; he let the game go on and booked Molyneux once he got up after treatment. One theory was that he may have berated the ref for not stopping the game when he was in distress, but no one saw an offence by the player in a fifty-fifty challenge. Noble had stayed out during the break, getting himself ready to take on the fight.
"The consensus after the game was that we had just witnessed the best game at the Vic for a couple of seasons."

Luke latched onto a ball and set off on a run with two defenders hanging onto his tail and he was brought down in the box and with no hesitation the ref pointed to the spot. Sadly, the chance was not taken after the shenanigans I wrote about earlier as the keeper guessed the right side for the kick, but if that had gone in I am sure we could have taken this team; they looked shaky under pressure and it was an orchestrated bout of wrestling at every dead ball kick into the box and I can guarantee if you watch the replay you will see Luke James and Kabamba brought to the ground every time and the ref did diddly squat about it. Donaldson, who had a great game, set off on a run and slipped the ball to Hawkes and his inexperience let him down so it was a poor shot at the keeper when he had men free in the box.

Another chance went begging for Pools as Anderson, making a challenge in the box, was flattened and he had to go to hospital after the game as some of his teeth had been knocked out and the ref gave the free kick to the visitors.

It was a hard game for both teams but why are the visiting teams allowed to get away with bending the rules yet the home team take the bookings? We were refused two definite penalty shouts and this is the standard we are used to now. A great point taken against the top team will hopefully give us a boost in the up-coming games and secure a place in the middle of the table without the end of season clamour for points.

A few contenders for Man-of-the-Match today, which was good to see. Donaldson and Anderson were the shining examples for Pools but the lad who stole the show was the Orient defender Widdowson: he never put a foot wrong and was the most effective player both in attack and defence.

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