Hartlepool United are in 'National League no man's land' - Liam Kennedy's Pools analysis of the Havant draw
Hartlepool United are marooned in National League no man's land.
The underwhelming, limp home point against fifth tier strugglers Havant & Waterlooville left Pools 10 points off the play off spots and now 11 off the relegation zone.
Sadly this is an all too familiar position to find themselves in.
Last season Pools were always playing catch up after a horror start, while off-field issues meant the on-field product suffered greatly.
This campaign there is no such excuse.
The play-offs and promotion is not something those at the top of the club see as essential. Say that to fans, players, etc and they will tell you the exact opposite.
Pools built this team with promotion in mind, no matter what they say publicly.
At this point in time that dream of a Wembley May date looks more distant than ever, even on the start of a new dawn under Richard Money.
On Money’s home debut Liam Noble’s 10th goal of the season did little to brighten the mood.
In an underwhelming show, Pools limped to a share of the spoils, having fallen behind to a Tyler Frost strike.
The result retained Pools’ unbeaten start to life under Money but results elsewhere, including a Gateshead win, ensured the play off places slipped further out of Hartlepool’s grasp.
On the selection front, Money recalled fit again Andrew Davies to his starting XI, with Noble and Luke James also coming in.
There was no place in the matchday 16 for Marcus Dinanga, while Conor Newton and Lewis Hawkins were on the Pools bench.
Things got off to a far from ideal start for Pools, with the hosts falling behind on 12 minutes - Frost firing a low shot past Scott Loach, on to the post and in.
Money’s men were behind for just six minutes, though.
After looking like he’d been shepherded away from danger Noble dug out a shot from 25 yards and with help from a slight deflection it skidded past former Pools keeper Ben Dudzinski.
That was the only real bit of quality in the half, with Pools lacking spark and the atmosphere flat.
The opening exchanges of the second half did little to alter the mood as Pools, with a little more attacking intent following the introduction of Kenton Richardson, continued to struggle in breaking down a team on home turf.
In fact, it was the visitors who looked the more likely to walk away with all three points the longer the game went on.
First a left wing cross somehow evaded two unmarked Havant forwards and then, having not heeded that warning, Pools allowed Frost to again ghost into space in the area but this time Scott Loach was equal to his effort.
While Money threw caution to the wind late on, it was Havant who were gifted a chance to nab a winner in the closing stages - Nicke Kabamba peeled off Carl Magnay and connected with a searching ball only for Loach to again dig Pools out of a hole with a reaction stop.
A point all told is no bad result for Pools.
But having been loathe to comment on the club’s alarming home form prior to this weekend new man Money got to see first hand just what Pools’ are lacking when they step out on the park at the Super 6 Stadium.
As far as games go - the two against Gateshead over the Christmas period are setting themselves up as festive crackers.
Six points against Steve Watson’s men would be the shot in the arm Pools need to halt the slide down the division.