Hartlepool United analysis: Richard Money proves pragmatism pays
'One nil wins are just the kind of result I like away from home.'
It’s early days but Richard Money comes across as the ultimate pragmatist.
After the idealism of Craig Harrison and the inexperience of Matthew Bates, he’s just what the doctor ordered to give Hartlepool United’s National League challenge a welcome shot in the arm.
First up for the experienced boss, though, was the FA Trophy.
And despite last season’s campaign proving a disaster, this one has not fallen at the first hurdle at least.
Where the competition lies in Pools’ list of priorities remains to be seen, of course.
At the start of the season it almost certainly lay below a potential money-spinning FA Cup tie, and a promotion push but the landscape looks to have changed, somewhat, with the door opening for Money to potentially have a right go at a run to Wembley due to automatic promotion, and the play-offs slipping out of Pools’ grasp in recent weeks and months.
This win was far from pretty. That is no fair reflection on the new manager, though.
Conditions made this one difficult on the eye. As high winds and lashing rain battered Leamington, Pools had to battle for every inch against their National League North opponents.
But battle they did and they won the right to attempt, at least, to play their own game.
In a game lacking quality, the one moment of brilliance in the whole 90, which for long periods looked like being extended another 30 minutes, was the deciding factor.
And it was one of Money’s old boys from his successful spell as Cambridge United manager, who produced the goods.
The new manager made a number of adjustments to the Pools side on his first outing in the dugout with Marcus Dinanga brought in up front. Paddy McLaughlin got a midfield recall while Kenton Richardson came in for the injured Peter Kioso.
Liam Noble missed out due to a hamstring problem, so too Conor Newton, while an ankle issue kept out Myles Anderson. Signing Harvey Rodgers was handed a first start.
Pools did go close twice in the opening exchanges with the crossbar and the flying figure of Leamington keeper Tony Breedon standing in their way. A looping corner by McLaughlin was headed on to his own bar by a home defender, then within 90 seconds recalled Dinanga had a fantastic opportunity to open his Pools account.
Another attack down the left saw the ball squared by Niko Muir, but with the goal seemingly at his mercy, Dinanga guided towards goal only for Breedon to produce an unbelievable stop diving to his left.
After the break it was the hosts, second best in the first 45, who had a period of dominance - it did not really mean they troubled Pools’ keeper Scott Loach, though.
Quality was in short supply in this encounter, much of that was due to the fact Donaldson, so often Pools’ main point of attack this season, was quiet. When he did get the chance to perform, though, he took it with both hands.
Donaldson picked up a loose ball on halfway and drove, with purpose, towards the opposition box. After out-pacing one midfielder he think jinked past two defenders before slotting into the bottom corner for 1-0.
As quick as Pools were in front, they almost opened the door at the other end as some poor defending allowed Kieran Dunbar a chance at the back post but his volley was over the top.
Dinanga’s last act on the park was waste a gilt-edged chance to seal Pools’ progression. A cross from the left by Muir found his strike partner but he somehow hit straight at the keeper from close range.
Despite some late home pressure, 1-0 was how it stayed as Money started his Pools reign with victory - and it was a bit of magic from his old boy Donaldson he had to thank for it.