Halloween Horror


Pools 0 Torquay 5 (National League)
Saturday 31 October 2020
Victoria Park

What a start to the season - Pools unbeaten in six games and never out of the top six in the league placings. Through to the first round proper of the FA Cup. Goals for column 13. Goals against Column 3. What could possibly go wrong? Then Torquay came to town and a lamentable five nil defeat.

Prior to the Torquay result and I was going to write about Pools' excellent start to the season, but I was also going to mention some of the concerns which I have about the side, some of which were revealed, nay exposed. during the drubbing by the team from Devon. My other concern was that the clubs that we had played were not exactly world beaters and I wondered how we would cope with top-of-the-table sides such as Stockport County or indeed Torquay.

As I have mentioned previously we do not have a fox-in-the-box or a recognised target man up front such as Danny Wright, the Torquay centre forward, who got himself a hat-trick against Pools and could have doubled that tally if luck had gone his way. He absolutely ran riot against our lacklustre defence and did I mention that he is thirty six years old?

Up front we have Grey, Ofusu, Bloomfield and Parkhouse. Let's be honest, they are all novices and still learning their trade - nothing wrong in that but all in the team at the same time? That said, Grey has something about him and looks head and shoulders above the rest of them.

Then we have Rhys Oates whose scoring record does not speak for itself and he does not seem to have improved any since his return to the club. I thought he might do well at non-league level but his best starting position seems to be on the bench.
"What really took the biscuit and annoyed Pools fans more than anything else was the manner in which Pools capitulated without an ounce of fight"

Ofusu did well in pre-season but seems to be out of his depth at this level and needs to be broken in gently or sent out on loan. He may go the same way as Niko Muir and to that end he needs to start cutting the mustard.

Bloomfield does have something about him. His best game for the club was against Ilkeston when he should have bagged at least five or six goals. Then again perhaps that is the level he too should be playing at. Sounds harsh but prior to the Torquay game almost all of Pools goals were coming from midfield.

When Nicky Featherstone gets man-marked or closed down, which of late he does, there does not seemed to be any other outlet for creativity in midfield. Perhaps a fit Luke Williams might be the answer.

Killip, though much improved since last season, is still suspect and does not inspire confidence. When a player is one-on-one with him he goes to ground and leads with his feet which is fine in some situations but not all. He should stand up and make the goal a more difficult target to breach.

Let's not take anything away from Torquay they gave Pools a thoroughly good hiding and could have had double figures. What really took the biscuit and annoyed Pools fans more than anything else was the manner in which Pools capitulated without an ounce of fight in them. The way heads dropped after conceding the second goal was pathetic.

Worse still, to a man they seemed to accept being turned over. I never saw any Pools player rollicking or shouting or even encouraging a team mate. With the exception of Luke Molyneux there was no passion or fight whatsoever in the team.

Ryan Donaldson set a thoroughly bad example after, I think, the fourth goal. His body language said it all as he meandered back into his own half prior to the re-start, head down and almost sulking, or was that skulking, back to his position on the pitch and not saying a word or offering any encouragement, especially to the younger players on the pitch. I do believe that he is the captain of the team. Not exactly an example-setting performance.

Dave Challinor was correct in his post-match summarisation of the team's performance, saying that, had there had been a crowd in attendance at the Vic, they would have well and truly let the players know their feelings in no uncertain terms and Challinor added that if he had been on the terraces he would have had a go at them as well!

I trust that the Torquay result, much like Liverpool's six-one thrashing at Aston Villa, is a reality check for the players. It could well be, even at this early stage, the defining point of the season. Let's hope we get a positive reaction from the squad.

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