Hartlepool United crashed out of the Johnstons Paint Trophy after a dismal display allowed Leicester to score three.
Hartlepool were in a fairytale that was still in motion. After knocking out a Premier League side in the Carling Cup and beating highly tipped Peterborough, Pools had a game against Leicester at home to continue an excellent run.
Hartlepool, who fielded a side that included Matty Robson, David Foley and Alan Power, never gained control or entered 2nd gear. Leicester, who had made a number of changes themselves, were assured and quick on the ball.
The game was not, however, a one sided affair. It was more of a midfield battle in a poor game for the ‘hardcores’. A mere crowd of just over 2000 turned out to see Pools get demolished 3-0 after goals by Howard, Adams and Fryatt in the second half finished Pools.
Nicky Adams had a long winded battle with Gary Liddle which Leicester eventually won. The game had promised after early pressure for Pools. Shots were blocked, skied or blazed wide and Pools, who ended up with 9 shots on target, could have grasped a much needed early goal. The bouncy Matty Robson had little chances to cross and generally delivered.
Leicester, a side who look much better than League 1 standard, rallied and began to look more and more comfortable. Pools were hurried, always under pressure even when there was time to pick a pass. In a game that wasn’t a thriller Leicester picked and chose when to attack in a professional display.
The first half, a turgid affair, drifted away in drizzle with Pools level. Leicester were happy to save their best till last.
HT: Hartlepool 0-1 Leicester
The second half began with a series of free kicks and miscued shots. Just 8 minutes into the half and un-expected goal arrived. Steve Howard bustled and scored, a simple but deadly goal that had the travelling fans on their feet. It hadn’t been coming, for either side.
Leicester made a tactical substitution by taking Paul Dickov off for pacey Dudley Campbell in the 56th minute.
Leicester just edged the game in a 20 minute period which ceased to amaze. Hartlepool decided to bring Jonny Rowell on for fellow young gun Alan Power to try to gain control.
In the 66th minute, a punt and a pocket of slick play allowed Nicky Adams to get a sneaky shot in which incidentally cruised into the net.
Hartlepool made a double substitution in a game that had turned to battle. David Foley was replaced by Anthony Sweeney and James Brown came off for Joel Porter. The game hadn’t branded any cards, as the old adage goes, ‘it was played in good spirit’
Hartlepool failed to decieve and whilst their little bit of pressure was the tiniest bit notable, nothing really bothered Leicester’s keeper.
The game petered out and whilst some fans were slightly restless, Pools league form was the main priority. In the 87th minute Matty Fryat, a player who is too good for this level scored to make a poor performance into a thrashing. It could be said that the team didn’t turn up but they looked full of fatigue.
A lack of control in the middle of the park and movement throughout the side halted any possible goal scoring opportunities. Pools had their chances but Leicester performed well and did a professional job. Pools could have pushed them if they had performed as they do in the League but it is obvious were the priorities are.
FT: Hartlepool 0-3 Leicester
It was an overall poor game in freezing conditions and spurts of rain. Leicester did their job, I expect that with the excellent squad they have they will go up.
Pools threatened on occasions, but weren’t desisive. James Brown was none existent (not Tottenham’s answer to Berbatov) and whilst Barker attempted to create, there was never much upfront. Pools need to reply to this performance with a win on Saturday, proving this as a blip in a competition deemed not that important.
MOM: Matty Robson – Was lively, tried his hardest and looked threatening on occasions
Hartlepool: Barret, Mcunnie, Nelson, Collins, Humphreys, Foley, Power, Liddle, Barker, Brown, Robson
Subs: Porter, Sweeney, Mackay, Rowell, Tait
Leicester: Henderson, O’Neill, Morrison, Gilbert, Powell, Wesolowski, Adams, King, Dyer, Howard, Dickov
Subs: Kishishev, Campbell, Fryatt, Martin, Craig King