MATCH REPORT: Pools promise counts for nothing without goals

Bradley Walker in action against Southend United. Picture by FRANK REID
Bradley Walker in action against Southend United. Picture by FRANK REID
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IF ever a defeat strengthened a manager’s cause then this was it.

There was evidence, and plenty of it, of improvement.

Verve, spirit and good intention were apparent.

There was not, however, “quality”, that buzz word which Colin Cooper speaks so longingly of.

And, to that end, his case for reinforcement was made stronger.

With three weeks of the transfer window still to play, he must act.

He must bring a goalscorer to Victoria Park.

He must be given the backing to do so.

Without it, as has been penned so often before, this team will fail.

They will fail to score goals.

They might even fail to stay in the division.

All warnings which have been scribed for the best part of two years.

Yet, here we are, depressing over the same narrative.

Relegated players rewarded with new contracts.

Good players – Evan Horwood and Peter Hartley – either released or sold.

This football club certainly doesn’t make life easy for itself.

But now, with three games as reason – as if we needed that – they must do themselves a favour – sign some goals.

To simplify, teams who don’t score goals don’t win football matches.

Teams who don’t win football matches are relegated.

Last year, Pools ticked both boxes.

Without addition they are in danger of condemning themselves to the same, sorry fate.

But there is hope, chances are being carved.

Jack Compton and James Poole, in particular, are populating areas of promise, working the ball into genuine scoring positions.

On Saturday, Pools occupied attacking territory for the majority, there were crosses, throughballs, shots and saves.

There were not, however, goals.

And, in truth, there never really looked like being.

Pools played the entirety of the second half against 10 men, Southend’s Barry Corr dismissed on the cusp of half-time following what appeared an over reaction from the officials to an innocuous coming-together.

But, if anything, the hosts created less against their depleted opponents.

At the other end, however, familiar failings proved decisive.

It was Freddie Eastwood’s fifth-minute strike which ultimately separated the sides.

Darren Holden, the 19-year-old defender, fired a nervy clearance straight to the feet of Will Atkinson, accepting possession on the edge of the area.

He duly drove beyond the forlorn full-back before attacking the by-line and squaring for Eastwood to hook in from close range.

It was a gift.

But Pools, with Poole their heartbeat, did rally a response.

He smashed towards the bottom corner from 20 yards before locating the top corner from similar range moments later, on both occasions forcing Daniel Bentley into flying saves.

It was his persistence which then paved an opening for Jonathan Franks, the winger controlling and hammering towards goal from just eight yards out only to be denied by a recovering defender.

Corr was then red carded just minutes after a multi-man melee which had sent the mercury rising, the striker falling foul of over-heated officials.

There were one or two second-half openings, Poole drawing wide from distance, Brad Walker likewise and Simon Walton skying a first-time volley from the penalty spot.

But the goal never came.

Indeed, stretching back into pre-season, Pools have netted just twice from seven matches against professional opposition and are yet to score at the Vic under Cooper.

Everything, then, points to one thing, it’s no secret.

Pools need goals. Pools need a goalscorer.

Without such, all of the promise, passion and positivity counts for little.

Just as it did on Saturday.