Analysis: Dover and out for Hartlepool United

Careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:45 am
Scott Loach is beaten at his near post for Dover's opener.

Hartlepool United fans wanting Craig Harrison to be picking up his P45 before Christmas are growing in number and in volume.

The supporters, promised a promotion campaign, are being fed not just defeat after defeat, but thrashing after thrashing.

Poolies are furious and it’s hard not to agree with them.

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This truly is unacceptable, there is no other word for it.

Well, there are other words for it but not ones which can appear in print in these pages of SportMail.

Saturday’s 4-0 subsidence at Dover Athletic did not speak voumes about where Pools have ended up, it screamed them.

For a team who dominated play and possession to come away on the wrong end of a four-goal ‘beating’ beggared belief. If the goals conceded to Macclesfield seven days earlier were excruciating then this was even worse.

An opener on two minutes when Pools needed a solid start to heap pressure on an out-of-sorts Dover was followed by an all-too-simple second.

Mitch Pinnock got both and goals three and four late on, from Ryan Bird, were also too easy as he was given the freedom of the six-yard box.

Pools fans sang “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” at the Crabble Athletic Ground to the players, though Harrison is the focal point of their fury. That is no shock, he is the gaffer.

He should be under pressure, certainly under pressure to deliver results, because Pools being down in 14th is a scandal.

But what would the sacking of a man in charge for just six months achieve? That’s even assuming Pools would.

Can the club afford it? You suspect not. Harrison would have to be paid up, presumably along with assistants, Paul Jenkins, Matthew Bates and Bernard Hirmer. Then there is the compensation required to bring in a new boss – surely the better ones will be in work?

You then have to stump up the readies for the new manager and his own backroom staff and then hope he hits the ground running.

There are other risks. Remember when Pools sacked another Craig, Hignett, and replaced him with Dave Jones. A fantastic CV, but no idea about League Two. He proved a complete disaster.

Now is the time for Pools, their owners and, dare I say, the fans to hold their nerve and keep the faith.

If Pools are to have any chance this season they need the sort of run they enjoyed post-Guiseley when they went along at an average of two points per game.

Fans, management and players, I’ve gone in alphabetical order, dug Pools out with a team effort and that’s where it’s going to have to come from again. The players have to launch the revival by going back to basics.

They must mark, track, tackle, block, save, shoot. Just those six things which were absent in Kent, I’m not asking them to donate a kidney.

The misery began on two minutes when Pools stood and watched as Pinnock exchanged passes unchecked with his friends before shooting early, Scott Loach being beaten badly at his near post.

Bird went close to a second after another neat home interchange while Loach made amends with a super diving save from Manny Parry’s header. But the keeper was culpable again as Dover doubled the lead in the 25th minute.

Louis Laing was robbed too easily by Anthony Jeffrey who crossed low into the six-yard area where Pinnock slotted in from a few yards. The goal was all-too-similar to the Macclesfield equaliser.

Loach is a class keeper, some of his saves this season have been breathtaking, he’s a class act as a fella, but a revival surely begins at number one?

Thereafter, to say Pools dominated and Dover barely got a touch would be no exaggeration. The away side were in total control of possession – they won the corner count 11-3 – and they played with passion and confidence ... until they got to the home area.

Rhys Oates had a shot blocked, Liam Donnelly was denied by a decent save from Mitch Walker who got down to hold a shot from sub Tomi Adeloye. Jack Munns could not connect to a Conor Newton cross as well.

The Crabble pitch was not in great nick so why weren’t Pools shooting on sight? This reporter could be wrong but I think, Donnelly (with three) and Carl Magnay (two) had the most chances, the skipper’s late piledriver produced a stunning Walker save with the ball heading into his top right corner. That is not right. The attacking players must take more responsibility.

Sure enough, when Dover had the sight of goal again, they scored in the 79th minute. Laing was turned inside out by sub Kadell Daniel whose cross was headed in by Bird from inside the six-yard box.

Bird made it four in injury time, this time with his right foot, when no one bothered to mark him at Pinnock’s free-kick.

Pools were down to 10 men at that point after Nicky Deverdics was dismissed when he caught Connor Essam with his right arm. It was untidy but hardly the elbowing the ref suggested. It merely resulted in another addition to the cock-up catalogue, and this time it wasn’t Pools.

The club must not compound it by axing the boss now – the team must be given a chance to turn it around, although they can’t leave it too long.