EVEN at reserve team level, it was a familiar tale that proved Hartlepool United’s undoing yesterday.
Against Hull City at Billingham’s Bedford Terrace, a defensive confusion and a failure to keep the ball in the forward areas for sustained periods of time let Micky Barron’s side down.
Just as at senior level, it was a fatal defensive calamity that brought about the only goal.
A ball from the right caused all sorts of dizziness in the box for a youthful Pools defence, the otherwise solid Jordan Richards deflecting onto his own post before Jonathan Margetts tapped in.
Pools didn’t yield any clear-cut chances to respond too, trialist Chris Winn – on trial from Northern League Division Two side Ryhope where he’s scored 18 goals so far this season – going closest with two efforts, one going wide and one saved by Mark Oxley before Ritchie Humphreys failed to draw parity late on with a last-minute front post header.
Barron reflected afterwards: “We could have done better, some of it was okay, some of it wasn’t too good.
“It was on the ball where I thought we lacked in the first 25 minutes. We didn’t look comfortable in possession and (at half time) we asked them to go and want to get on the ball.
“The second half we got a little bit better but lacked a little bit of quality.
“It looked as if someone was waiting for someone else to do something with it and then see what happened after that.
“We need more options on the ball, better angles to receive the ball and too many times it’s front to back rather than through the midfield.”
Indeed, it was the visitors who were the more happier on the ball, passing it between one another and making full use of their wide players.
The clever-thinking Francis McCaffrey could have broken the deadlock mch earlier if Adam McCugh in the home goal didn’t deny the forward. McCaffrey then squared for Margetts who fluffed from 10 yards.
Simon Walton and Nathan Luscombe both registered efforts themselves from free kicks, while a quiet Luke James and an energetic Greg Rutherford also tested Oxley.
But Pools did struggle to create and the returning Walton struggled to make much of an impact on the game.
Pressed on Walton’s potential inclusion in Saturday’s league visit to Crewe, Barron said: “It’s down to the manager. It’s hard when you go and play in the reserves and you’ve got young lads around you but he needed to go and play in a game.
“He used it like a training session. The manager, myself and the rest of the staff over the next few days will discuss the Crewe game and decide who’s going to play.
“Chris (Winn) showed glimpses. He didn’t really get that much service into him but when he did, he held it up alright, played it off and made some decent runs.
“It was definitely worth having a look and we’ll keep monitoring him.”
Pools: McHugh, Richards, Tuck, Buddle, Jones, James (Hawkins 70), Walton, Humphreys, Luscombe (Green 76), Rutherford (Bogey 70), Winn. Subs not used: Foden, Wignall.
Hull City: Oxley, Brindley (Topliss 77), Townsend, Wilson, Cooper, Aimson, Emerton, Stewart (Dillon 57), Margetts, McCaffrey (Dixon 88), McElroy.Subs not used: Cracknell, Gill.