Date: 10th February 2016 at 3:20pm
Written by:

Hartlepool v Stevenage, 9th February 2016 by Billy Zinc.

Me ole mate Bob Dylan famously said “Don`t Look Back” and how many times do these watch words ring true? Of course there`s famous exceptions, but Pool`s history is thick with examples of heroes returning ignominiously. Luke James peaked years ago, I can`t remember how many years ago, his single handed destruction of Carlisle was the zenith of his career, on that day Luke danced between two burly (East European, I think) centre halves like Wayne Sleep used to dance around the playground at our school. All who tried to kick or trip him were left looking like clumsy fools. Unlike Wayne, Luke seem to slow down as he muscled out. In many matches he was too easily knocked off the ball and made little impact. When he eventually, for whatever reason, stopped wearing the blue shirt he wasn`t missed too much, true we`ve done nothing since he left, but we were already in the doldrums then anyway. Moore`s denials regarding his signing, followed by his signature has done nothing to enhance the deteriorating opinion the terracing have of the manager.

Luke`s second coming wasn`t a tide turning event in the club`s history, but he did do enough to attract the “man of the match” award, though rumour had it that it was between him and one of the ball boys (in truth Carson should have walked away with it, no argument). James attracts fouls like honey attracts bees, the refs usually give a few free kicks, but then (as last night) seem to accept that the opposition are allowed to floor him at will. He performed quite well, with many runs through or into Stevenage`s defence but, like most games this season we weren`t playing as a team, so no back up, no one to pick up lost balls, no outlet for a pass. Pools were poor as a team so again I write that we have some good individual players, much better than last year, but no cohesion, no team work or team spirit. Stevenage are also a poor side but they bullied us off the ball, wanting it more than us, but like us gave it away nearly every time they attempted to pass it. What`s with the London sides when they come here? They all turn into sluggers flooring everyone who gets passed then, although not many pools players actually did, James aside.

After a frustrating first half that saw us, not surprisingly, and in spite of Carson`s heroics, go one down to a goal scored in the dying minutes, the second half the game continued in the same untidy vain. Some wit speculated that the council had passed a byelaw prohibiting players from passing the ball to someone in the same colour shirt as them. Stevenage went a frustrating, two up early in the half, again not from brilliant football, but from mistakes and miskicks. I don`t think they could believe their luck. At the beginning of the last quarter Pools got a lifeline, when the previously (and subsequently) subdued Paynter scored a great volley. I told my young great-nephew that this would trigger some time wasting from the visitors and within seconds, a Stevenage goal kick saw the keeper simulate a struggle to retrieve the ball, then he had to remove all the mud from his boots before taking the kick. As the ball travelled over the half way line a Stevenage player dropped to the floor quite dramatically, the referee (obviously spending his first day on this planet), stopped the game for treatment. The Stevenage players then all exited the pitch, followed quite disappointedly by some Pools players. The referee totally lost control and allowed events to overtake him at this point. After many minutes the teams came back onto the pitch and the injured player slowly but bravely limped off to the touchline. Just seconds later the referee waved the player back on the pitch, the miracles of modern medicine were made obvious, as the player who left the field in a manner akin to Frankenstein`s mode of walking, raced back on like Linford Christie on Barocca. For a few minutes Pools played with conviction. A cameo moment came when, during a pools attack, one of our defenders lay injured near the edge of the pitch, in deep our half, Carson ran up to him, but not to help, but to pull him off the pitch, so as not to hold up play. If only we had a few more as committed as Carson.

Any sign of the much needed teamwork that we showed in the last quarter dissolved when two players were substituted in the last ten minutes. To be fair to all the team, tactical subs should be given half a half hour at least, they hardly find their feet in ten minutes.

The end of the match was greeted by some boos and load mouth dissenters calling for Moore`s head, but most of the loyal shrugged their heads and headed for the exits after seeing our disorganised team beaten by poor opposition once again.

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