Liam Kennedy's Hartlepool United analysis: Pools MUST address goalscoring problems before promotion hopes drift
Modern day football is all about statistics - this approach, at times, leads to an over-analysis of even the most minute detail.
Shots, possession, tackles, corners is all standard fare. How many minutes the football is actually in play has now become a thing for stattos to pour over.
A stat never won a football match. The last time I checked it was goals, as it has been since this beautiful game was created, which sorts the men from the boys.
And the facts for Hartlepool United are stark.
Twenty goals in 19 games is just not going to cut it. Keep that goals to games ratio up and Pools will surely miss out on the National League play-offs, which is the overall aim of the club from top to bottom.
On Saturday they were taught a fifth tier footballing lesson.
You can have all the ball in the world, have the opposition pinned back on their own 18-yard line - like Pools did for 15 minute either side of half time - but if you do not produce a quality final pass, cross or finish then it is a waste of time.
Bromley showed them just how to do it, inflicting a third successive National League defeat on Pools in clinical fashion.Frankie Sutherland scored two penalties, Omar Bugiel and George Porter wrapped up a deserved three points for the hosts against 10-man Pools, who saw Peter Kioso see red in the second 45.
On the selection front Matthew Bates made the one enforced change to the starting XI with skipper Andrew Davies serving the first of a three-game ban. In came Mark Kitching for the captain, while youngsters Kenton Richardson and Luka Murphy came on to the Pools bench
During the opening 45 we really did see the best and the worst of Pools. In the second, forget the positives it was a highlight reel of the worst on an untterly forgettable afternoon in London
While they dominated in an attacking sense at the back end of the 45 - Liam Noble becoming an increasing influence - they let themselves down at the other end
Defensive errors have cost them too many points already this season and did so yet again either side of half-time today
Myles Anderson threatened an error within the first five minutes, bringing down a Bromley forward in the area but referee Leigh Doughty wasn’t convinced it was worth a spot-kick
He wasn’t so forgiving soon after when Anderson was again caught napping in the area - his challenge on Sutherland was adjudged to have been penalty-worthy and the man in the middle pointed to the spot. Sutherland sent Scott Loach the wrong way for 1-0.
Despite not creating all too many openings Pools dominated the play either side of the half but shot themselves in the foot on 62 when a combination of Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson contrived to gift the ball to Bugiel who smashed in the second.
Kioso then saw red for a poor challenge in the area and Sutherland again showed the composure to make it 3-0 from 12 yards.
With the game all but won, and Pools looking a spent force, Porter added a late fourth to ensure Pools’ hopes of edging back into the play off mix went up in smoke, as they dropped a place and a point further back in the National League.
Three defeats on the bounce is far from the disaster many would have you believe but it has brought concerns to the fore.
When results were forthcoming, they papered over the cracks. If we are honest with ourselves, the lack of goals is a concern that has never really gone away. Now it is staring everyone in the face.
Sat behind the press benches at Hayes Lane on Saturday was owner Raj Singh, flanked by director of football Craig Hignett on one shoulder and chief executive Mark Maguire on the other.
It has not, to this point, been lost on any of them that Pools are in need of goals.
Owner Singh stated in his programme notes that Pools did not need to rush to get the right frontman into the club. He believed Bates and Pools have time on their side.
If the businessman has real desires for Pools to get in the play-offs he might well be pushed into action this week.
Saturday’s performance underlined just how much Pools - whose three strikers have just six goals between them this campaign - need an injection of quality in the final third.