Pools Stand Firm

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Woking 1 (National League)
Saturday 7 September 2019
Victoria Park

Another TV showing for Pools against a potential promotion team probably came at the right time for us. On a run of games where we showed some of our own potential, yet I was still apprehensive about our chances on live TV. 

The pundits only ever talk about the visitors and show pictures of the ship and Saint Hilda’s over the CK stand then it is all about how well the visitors are doing before and after the game despite the result. The visitors even do their team talk before and after the game in a huddle on the pitch. They probably think Pools have the dressing rooms bugged. 

Their manager bemoaned the fact that they had come by train and had to walk to the ground. Quite a complaint when you think of footballers walking a quarter of a mile from the station. As I said, I was a little apprehensive about a game against a side that had won 7 out of 10 games, so when I met up with the Ditchburn he was all for taking a point now.

It was so different once the game started as both teams looked like they were capable and it was end to end stuff, a great game for the neutral if there were any neutrals in the ground. An unchanged side for Pools again was good news in front of a decent crowd. The atmosphere in the Vic was brilliant especially from the new contingent that inhabit the Corner Flag end of the Neale Cooper stand. They never stopped.

An early chance was made by Toure who set up Kennedy, whose shot was blocked. Then a  magic moment from Toure when a brilliant run again found him in the six-yard box followed by two defenders and he turned and dragged the ball back sending the two defenders on a skiing trip. Brilliant to watch, reminiscent of the glory days of Boydie when he did the same to the Wendies on a rain-soaked pitch.

It was a fast-paced match and our defenders had to be on their game, yet once again we see so many players in this division falling like trees when a Pools player breathes heavily on them, and again the TV exposed how poor the quality is of some of the officials at the games these days.

Woking were fast down the left side and Kioso had his hands full but the lad was magnificent and deserved his Man of the Match award at the end of the game. Johnson, the winger, had played in the PremierLeague and was fast, getting in early crosses and was a real threat but Kioso stuck to his task, the fans were chanting ‘You neve get past Kioso” all the game.

The only trouble with TV is that it does expose your weaknesses and Killip was nowhere near on some of the crosses but he also made some good blocks late in the game to save a point. Officials also come under scrutiny as the visitors had a perfectly good goal wiped off when the lino ruled it offside. To be fair I would never have seen this from my position in the stand but my guess was the lino saw two men in an offside position and as he has to look to where the free kick was taken and then back to the line he instantly put his flag up and picked the wrong man. A bit of luck for Pools but the pundits made a meal of it at half time.

It is not our fault the officials cocked up, but poor old Woking. I say lucky old Hartlepool. Toure and Mafuta were obvious targets for the trailing boot in tackles and both of them came in for some dirty treatment; it was a bit of a worry to see Toure with his thigh heavily strapped. Yhis two games per week could be taking its toll. Mafuta took a kick on his standing foot when he slipped a ball past an attacker and went down; the ref was stood right beside him and did nothing.

We had the better of the first half yet Woking had hit the woodwork twice. Kioso had a great chance late in the half as Noble set him up and blasted a shot that the keeper blocked. Noble was immense today driving the team forward, spraying balls all over the Park and knows how to wind up the opposition.
"The atmosphere in the Vic was brilliant"

Pools were awarded a penalty after a defender raised an arm, which also upset the pundits at half time, who claimed the defender had turned away and the shot was too close. Go look at the video! Noble picked the ball up and before he could place it for the spot kick Casey, the Woking midfielder, walked over and tried to dig a hole in the spot and then tried to attract the ref to the placing of the ball by Noble. Even the keeper was off his line trying to face down Noble and the ref had to usher him back to his line. Noble kept his cool and smashed the ball in, sending the keeper the wrong way and Noble then ran to the keeper to face him down and take the mickey out of him.

Both Kitchen and Kennedy had chances before the break but Pools went in a well-deserved one goal up. "Very fortunate", "Harsh decision", "Very debatable" was the half time pundit line on the penalty. No more than Hartlepool would expect from such clowns who get paid for this drivel.

Woking seemed to have more possession in the second half and one criticism I will make is that we played too deep and invited them on late in the game. Five at the back makes us look a bit crowded and there was little to release to in midfield (you would think I knew what I was talking about but bear with me.) Last season this side would have taken us to the cleaners. Their goal came from a punch out by Killip; the ball was switched wide and the young substitute hit a cracking shot into the top corner that Killip was nowhere near. I might be a bit hard on Killip but the defenders too are to blame as the lad had a clear shot from the edge of the box.

Noble was booked for a silly push in the back but as we know he plays on adrenalin, even the pundits said the card was overdue but he is a player you want in your side not playing against you. Noble was yanked for his own good and replaced by Featherstone. Toure had a great chance late on when he was one on one with the keeper who blocked the shot with his feet.

Killip redeemed him self with a late save and blocked a shot that was going in. Pools did have a final rally at the end; a great low cross from Kioso went past the defenders and the keeper and two Pools men Kennedy and Toure both launched at the ball. Kennedy missed,  Toure got to the ball at the far post but it hit Kennedy and bounced away letting the visitors off the hook.

Hodge, their goal scorer, should have been off as he was booked earlier and then left a foot in on Mafuta right in front of the ref. Pools got the free kick but the ref bottled the card. 

This was a tough game for Pools but we stood firm and could have toppled the league leaders. Some outstanding performances all over the pitch and any one of them could have been Man of the Match so it was good to see a performance in front of the cameras but the pundits just do not see it for Hartlepool.

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