Hartlepool’s Nicky Featherstone looking to end goal-drought against Salford City

Portsmouth put four past Hartlepool United
Portsmouth put four past Hartlepool United
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Remember John Jensen?

The Danish midfielder could not score for toffee after arriving at Arsenal in the aftermath of Euro 92 when Jensen scored in the final win over Germany.

His scoreless streak (98 games to be precise) went on so long that a crafty cockney businessman printed thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with ‘I was there when John Jensen scored’.

This reporter will take any cut if any budding local entrepreneur gets some made with ‘I was there when Nicky scored’ on the front.

Nicky Featherstone is getting ever closer to his first Hartlepool United goal. And he’s only on 52 appearances.

The midfielder could and should have broken his duck at Portsmouth on Saturday.

He linked up neatly seven minutes from time with sub Mikael Mandron and showed footwork Messi or Maradona would have been proud of to get in the Pompey box.

The goal was gaping but Featherstone took so long that he was crowded out.

“I just couldn’t get the ball out of my feet to get a clean strike,” Featherstone told SportMail.

“I should have got my shot away, if that had been a striker I would have been having a go at him if he had not hit the target.

“I should have been scoring from there.”

Featherstone has been getting closer.

He had two golden opportunties at Exeter – he delayed too long for the first and was tackled and for the second he had his legs taken for him for a penalty.

Against Oxford he did get one shot away in the opening seconds which he thundered into the Town End, but at least it was an attempt at goal.

And later on he did brilliantly to get into a shooting position but instead passed to Rakish Bingham who put his effort into the carpark.

It would be nice to see Featherstone just put his foot through the ball and trust in his skill. There are mitigating factors for just one career goal (for Hereford) given the former Hull City player has operated as the defensive midfielder at his clubs.

Featherstone added: “I’ve played the deepest midfielder role through my career so it’s not easy [to score goals].

“It would be nice to pop up with a goal but the performance and result for the team are what matters the most.”

Featherstone makes a very valid point, but the 26-year-old is one of the side’s in-form performers and given that, why shouldn’t he pop up with a goal.

Excellent against Oxford, he got the team moving forward nicely in the second half at Salford and was making the side tick again at Fratton Park.

The player who finished the match against Pompey wearing the skipper’s armband cannot be faulted for his care for Pools, who he joined 13 months ago.

Or his honesty. He was the first to hold up his hands for the match-clinching third Portsmouth goal from Gareth Evans

“It was an error from me for their third, I had the chance to clear it and I thought I had more time to deal with it but it got nicked off me and they scored to put the game to bed.”

On the subject of honesty, Featherstone is desperate to see Pools start earning points.

Some of the football was good and Pools earned praise from Portsmouth’s assistant boss Leam Richardson

“It’s hard to just brush it under the carpet,” he said.

“We’ve got to address the performance and where it went wrong, the goals we conceded and our overall performance and go from there.

“The gaffer changed it to 4-4-2 at half-time and then for the first 15 minutes I thought we were back in the game but then they killed us off.

“We’ve worked on trying to keep the ball and we came here to try to frustrate them.

“We felt that we had a chance if we frustrated them and take it into the later stages we might have a chance on the counter-attack.

“We need to find whatever motivates us for games.

“We don’t want another season like last year when we’re fighting relegation.”

But before returning to League Two action first is tomorrow night’s FA Cup second-round replay against Salford City.

Despite the amount of running between 3pm and 4.55pm and then 300-odd miles on the coach home, Featherstone insists Pools will be ready for tomorrow night’s match at the Vic, physically and mentally.

“It’s about recovering and preparing right,” he said. “It’s a real chance for us to put things right.