Hartlepool United analysis: Two points dropped for Pools but positives aplenty for Richard Money & Co

Any point away from home has to be classed as a good point.

Saturday, 29th December 2018, 4:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:30 am
Luke James scores for Pools for only the second time this season at Chesterfield yesterday.
Luke James scores for Pools for only the second time this season at Chesterfield yesterday.

But as far as this game goes, it left a bitter taste in the mouth.

This definitely felt like two points dropped for Hartlepool United - and it’s much to do with their performance in the opening 45.

Few teams at this level will be able to live with Pools if they play like they did in the first-half, with movement and chances aplenty.

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Defensively, though, under pressure, they crumbled late on to be robbed of a deserved three points in Derbyshire.

Luke James’ second goal of the season put Pools 1-0 up just before the break, before Bradley Barry volleyed in a late equaliser to ensure a nervy close at the Proact Stadium.

Despite some criticism for his 4-1-4-1 formation from some sections of the fanbase, Money stuck to his guns, leaving Carl Magnay in front of the back four. And he was proved right, as despite its failings at the International Stadium on Boxing Day, the system worked perfectly in Derbyshire with the four of James, Ryan Donaldson, Liam Noble and Josh Hawkes providing chances, shots and movement in abundance.

Money did make three personnel changes from the Gateshead loss, though, with James’ recalled, Hawkes brought in and Myles Anderson given a chance to shine in the absence of ‘injured’ Andrew Davies.

The changes paid dividends as Pools looked night and day from midweek - dominating in terms of possession, field position and chances.

Noble stung the palms of keeper Callum Burton, while Hawkes fired inches wide after good work down the right by Niko Muir.

Despite being on top, Pools did not have the goal to show for their performance - that was until the stroke of half-time.

A jinking run from deep by the influential Noble ended with him slipping in James and the striker, with just one goal to his name at kick-off, doubled his tally with a powerful finish under Burton in the Spireites’ goal

It was no less than Money’s men deserved.

The second-half did not live up to the first in terms of intensity from Pools as the hosts had their inevitable spell in the game.

Backs to the wall, Pools could only hold out for so long and following substitute Luke Rawson’s contender for miss of the season, after an error by Mark Kitching, the Spireites got their leveller - Barry hammering in to put some gloss on a period of dominance from the home side.

From a position of confidence and comfort, this turned into a bit of a rearguard action for Pools against their managerless opponents.

But, despite failing to do so on so many occasions this campaign, Pools withstood the home assault to claim a valuable point on the road.

Pools actually dropped to 15th due to results elsewhere but remain 13 from the play-offs and nine above the relegation zone.