Only One Winner

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Eastleigh 1 (National League)
Tuesday 7 January 2020
Victoria Park

It had been windy all day and it looked as if it could spoil the match; we needed a good result after the Oxford game. 

Another collapse and news of a three match retrospective ban for Gimi Toure which no one seemed to know anything about. So two changes for Pools as the cup-tied Liddle and Shelton were brought back, but one comment made by the Ditch was that Kabamba on his own up front was not the ideal situation. 

We lost Raynes ten minutes into the game and Kerr came on in his place - who himself  went off later in the game and was replaced by Anderson, who did ok. The visitors looked content to sit back and pack the box, which looked as if it might go in our favour but we struggled to break them down.

Eastleigh played so deep that I counted the number of times they came into our half throughout the first half and they were all from dead ball kicks and totalled four times. I suppose a long trip on a windy Tuesday night to the far-flung north is a bit daunting, but no team travels as far as Pools do in the division. On the wireless they were commenting on our travels and we apparently travel further than Barcelona did in the league and Champions League or cup or whatever it is they play in.

Pools looked comfortable but most of the game was played between the half way line and the Rink End as Pools, playing some decent football, pegged the visitors back but Eastleigh had little inclination to come out. Once again it was obvious that we need a striker who can strike as the good approach play was wasted around the eighteen-yard box. Either the lack of a shot or a misplaced pass led to the break down of the attacks; so many times a Pools man had the chance to shoot and in those windy conditions it was worth a punt but we tried to walk the ball in. But having said that, Eastleigh did defend well. Kabamba and Donaldson both had shots, one hitting the keeper and the other skimming the bar and late in the half Holohan had a pop but he too was wide of the mark.
"He had number eleven on his back and it looked as if that was his age, the smallest player on the field beat the tallest with a shot out of nowhere"

Kicking to the Town End in the second half meant we fans in there would see a bit more of the action. The visitors picked up their game and used the long ball in the wind better than we had in the first half. Holohan hit one home in a goalmouth scramble when the keeper dropped the ball. It was just what the game needed and hopefully would bring them out a bit more.

But before we had time to celebrate they hit one of the best goals I have seen from a kid at the Vic, the number eleven for the visitors, Sam Smart. So within a minute of Pools' goal, it was all square on only their fifth visit to our half and the kid hit a screamer into the top corner, He had number eleven on his back and it looked as if that was his age, the smallest player on the field beat the tallest with a shot out of nowhere that was really well taken and deserved the applause even from the Pools fans.

Pools rallied again and some good play down the flanks found Kitching at the dead ball line and he sent in a cross for Shelton to score his first goal for the club. At half time the Ditch and I had discussed Shelton and others and he was of the opinion that Shelton should be sent back so I reminded him of his comments when the winning goal went in.

It had been a decent game and once we broke them down there was only going to be one winner which hopefully will give us confidence in the game at Dover on Saturday which, if anything like the home game against them, could be a bit naughty. On reflection Kabamba should have had a penalty late on, and that was only the second boo-boo the ref made, the other being a dropped-ball situation when the ball hit him as the visitors moved forward. I do not pretend to know this new rule change but to drop the ball for a lone Eastleigh player who blasted it up towards our box did not seem like cricket, Apart from that the ref did ok overall, which is practically a commendation from me. Their long throw man was a bit dangerous too, even into the wind the lad could reach the penalty spot.

On a happy note there were 2478 fans at the game, including 19 from Eastleigh. This small club with gates of around four hundred raised £400 for us in a bucket collection back when we were poor. A grand effort from such a small club, so it was good to hear HUFC did the good turn of inviting the 19 Eastleigh fans into the ground with a nice meal and seats in the CK stand for the first half, I did notice that they were back on the Rink End terrace in time to see their kid hit that cracking goal. On another high note, the Ditchy brought me a bag of sweets tonight. I hope for his sake he is not grooming me!

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