Hartlepool United v Yeovil, 13th February 2016 by Billy Zinc.
He seemed like a nice old man, albeit he`s 3 years younger than me!! I had nothing against Ronnie, but on the other hand I never joined his fan club either. I saw the home two matches of the block of four that are attributed with us staying in the league and I believe that we could have just as easily lost both as win them, but history quite rightly records that we gained 12 points from 12. History always records that our points tally at the end of last season was lower than relegated sides of previous seasons and if not for the bottom two being so poor, we`d be non-league this year. I also believe that one of our opposition teams “could have done better” (as my teacher used to in my school reports) late in the season.
My old (and Mr. Dylan`s) maxim “Don`t Look Back” is coming under more pressure now Higgy is in charge. The difference being with Higgy is that, whereas most returnees have either returned after their career has gone on the rocks after some success or more usually, they have floundered after first leaving the club. Higgy`s s bit different, although I was annoyed when he deserted us for rich pickings in the south (of the River Tees), I doubted that even the staunchest Poolie would have resisted such a move. I believe, and desperately hope, Higgy is on the verge of a successful career in management. Given his back ground we couldn`t have signed anyone better qualified, with regard to knowing the area and team, to manage Pools. Please don`t prove me wrong Craig.
With Middlesbrough not playing today, BBC Radio Boro (aka Tees) on the way home, I heard a brief mention of the pools match, before the non-league round up. I don`t know if their expert summariser was actually there, but he praised our first half performance above that of the second, whereas it was only after the Bovril that the lads had any bite in their game. The first half opened quite lively with Jake Grey having the best of the shots and unlucky not to score, but we then let the not so soft southerners, aided and abetted by a bizarre referee and a weak linesman, bully us off the ball. We usually get a couple of free kicks from fouls on James`s before the refs start ignoring them, but not today, licence to bring him down at will, had apparently being giving to the Yeovil players prior to kick off, a licence they exploited with glee. More worrying and more obvious was the two armed blatant holding by Smith, mainly on Paynter, that was perpetrated in full view and within yards of both officials, and carried on for the full first half and into the second. It`s a man`s game so I rather think that an experienced forward should have an answer, but although he eventually did, it wasn`t until late in the second half. The bruising, rugby tackling, body checking first half finished with Pools edging it as the better side, abut amazingly only two yellows with Yeovil player`s names on.
After being kicked out of the game in the first half the lads showed a bit more determination, both James and Thomas continued their runs up their respective wings, and continued to add to their bruises as they were unfairly felled. The ref. again showing his limited grasp of the game by carding Thomas for something less than he`s been on the receiving end of for the previous hour. A few minutes later, to prove he was unbiased and was treating both sides equally unjustly, a body check (many of which had previously gone unpunished) on Thomas, that only a TV replay would convince me that was in the box, gave us the present of a penalty. Paynter made no mistake from the spot. Two substitutions for Pools soon followed, Featherstone wasn`t missed but Thomas`s removal must have been due to the shoulder injury he`d received from the body checks. After the penalty Yeovil seemed as if they were running on empty, after having thrown everything at Pools for an hour, legs and bodies included. Pools deservedly extended the lead though Jackson making the much precious the three points seem to be firmly in the bag. Better was to come when Paynter grew a pair and decided he`d had enough of Smith`s treatment, it drew a yellow for him but this was more than countered by the well-deserved, and not overdue, red that Smith saw. If the home crowd weren`t already ecstatic at the decision, his comical reaction, as he left the pitch left them cheering loudly. So many of these southern bullies come here thinking that the normal rules of football don`t apply them and when justifiable (but not frequently enough) penalised, they act like persecuted schoolboys, though, I have to admit it`s always good for a laugh when they do. Ironic cheers from the rink end, when they were on the right end of free kicks, indicated that the blinkered away fans thought that they were getting the raw end of the deal from the ref. but for much of the match the home crowd had thought the same. Yeovil took on a second wind in the dying minutes of the match after they scored an unlikely, injury time goal. Zoko`s header was unstoppable for the livid Carson, who angrily remonstrated with his defence conceding it. The end of the match and three points, couldn`t then come quickly enough for the home faithful.
I think this season`s league two (or fourth division as it should be called) is one of the worse, if not the worse, ever, and Pools position in it reflects exactly how poor we`ve been this year. Once again we`ve let a poor side, maybe the worse yet, with players who`s skill doesn`t stretch beyond perpetrating foul play, bully us on the pitch and very nearly take something away for their troubles. A win`s a win, as some of the crowd were saying, and, in our position, who can argue. It`s too early for Hignett to have had too much of an influence on way the lads play, but what influence he`s had has obviously been a positive one. One can`t start a career in management any better than with a win. We have some good players, much better than last season and hopefully Hignett will be able to mould them into a passable (and passing) side that stays in the league. There`s not one Hartlepool fan nor anyone in Teesside, for that matter, who isn`t right behind Crag Hignett, and doesn`t wish him well, the season starts here! (For those in other parts of the country:- Darlington, anyone remember them? aren`t in Teesside)
Hartlepool United v Yeovil, 13th February 2016
Hartlepool United v Yeovil, 13th February 2016 by Billy Zinc.