Roy Kelly's match analysis: Hartlepool United 1 Macclesfield Town 2
You know the old saying charity begins at home'?
Hartlepool United are taking it to ridiculous lengths.
For the second time in three Saturdays Pools have dished out some early Christmas presents at Victoria Park.
First it was Aldershot, who were allowed to win with frightening ease, and on Saturday it was another side with promotion ambitions, Macclesfield who were outplayed for 95% of the match only to leave with three points.
It’s about time the Pools players stopped helping their rivals get closer to the EFL and began helping themselves.
The Shots were just two points better off than Craig Harrison’s team when they arrived in town – now the gap is nine points.
It was just as galling at the weekend – Michael Woods’s well-taken 38th-minute goal had put Pools on course to a season-high ninth place at the half-way point of the campaign.
Macclesfield are the third worst team your SportMail writer has reported on at the Vic. No offence to the Silkmen, just an observation, as Pools not only took the game to them, but outplayed them all over the park. Everywhere, sadly, apart from scoring, but more on that later.
For the Macc lads to get even get a point would require something special or something criminal from the home side. Sadly, it proved to be the latter, as Pools gave away two goals a Sunday League side would hold their heads in shame over.
For those who were not there or seen them on TV or on line, they were absolute shockers.
The first in the 85th minute, unforgivably, came following an attacking Pools throw with the hosts losing possession. Nicky Deverdics lost an aerial challenge with the second smallest fella on the pitch, with Elliott Durrell scampering away down the right from Tyrone Marsh’s ball.
Durrell drove a low ball into the six-yard box which Scott Loach failed to stop and Ryan Lloyd got ahead of Carl Magnay to score from three yards. The Macclesfield winner in the opening minute of stoppage time was even worse to watch.
Scott Harrison conceded a free-kick by wrestling an isolated Marsh 40 yards out when all he needed to do was stand him up. He was promptly booked, for stupidity.
Pools were not helped by the officials who allowed the award to be taken 10 yards ahead of the mark. It gave Durrell a better angle to whip in the dead-ball, not that’s an excuse for some lame defending.
Sub Lewis Hawkins inadvertently flicked the ball into the box, but once there, George Pilkington and Lloyd both beat the home defence to headers, Lowe’s attempt coming back off the bar for Keith Lowe to nod into an empty net. One header was bad enough to lose, but three?
Now, these things happen to better teams than Pools. Ask Bayern Munich’s 1999 Champions League final side, who led Man United 1-0 and could have been out of sight, only for Fergie to send in the SAS, Sheringham and Solskjaer and win it in stoppage time.
But, if Pools are to get anywhere this season, the players have to wise up. There was a chorus of boos at the end, entirely understandable after such a giveaway.
There has been much ‘Harrison out’ talk on line. You could perhaps have a moan about not making a substitute earlier, given two of his forward line were ‘blowing’ but to blame the manager for two ludicrous bit of defending is harsh in the extreme.
The players have to look at themselves and they simply must react at Dover, which has become a must-win game, however they achieve that. Results went with Pools at the weekend but that won’t continue.
Pools did play well against the Silkmen, Woods and Conor Newton driving the side on from midfield with Liam Donnelly deputising superbly for the injured Nicky Featherstone.
The finishing did not match the approach play, Deverdics, Jake Cassidy and Rhys Oates all finding the Rink End seats with Oates despatching one high into the car park, while Newton at least brought a save from Shwan Jalal.
But there was reward for the bright attacking play, Cassidy finding Woods nicely in the box with the midfielder tucking away his angled shot into the keeper’s bottom right corner.
Cassidy should have done better with a decent opening but Jalal saved low to his right.
It wasn’t all Pools, Lowe shanked one wide from a second-minute corner, Scott Burgess was just wide with a spectacular effort from range and Loach made a cracking save from Mitch Hancox’s blast.
After the break, Pools were just as threatening, Jalal saving from Oates and Newton from the edge of the area and Jack Munns curling one wide.
Oates had a chance to bury one from just inside the box but his attempt was tame and the goalie held with little trouble. However, despite the profligacy in front of the goal at the Town End, the destination of the points looked inevitable, only for charitable Pools to give it away.