Fight, bottle & Harrison as the galvanising influence - Liam Kennedy’s Hartlepool United analysis

Devante Rodney watches as his effort hits the Woking post.
Devante Rodney watches as his effort hits the Woking post.

As far as away day showings go, Hartlepool United came close to producing a masterclass at Woking.

The only thing that let them down was a solitary split second, a momentary lapse in concentration, just before the stroke of half-time.

Take that out of the equation and this was picture perfect, straight out of Craig Harrison’s tactical playbook.

Jamie Philpot’s strike was not only a blot on Pools’ near exemplary copybook, it also cost them two points, which up until the moment the Woking striker struck, in 47+2, looked well within their grasp.

While in the aftermath of the match this felt very much like two points dropped, even with Inih Effiong’s effort rattling the Pools bar at the death, time, I’m sure fans will reflect well on this hard-fought point.

Woking, until Saturday, had the best home record in the National League, fresh off a winning run on their own patch, two points off the top of the table.

Any point on their travels is admirable, no matter the opposition. This one, though, ranks as the best earned this campaign and might just prove extra valuable come May, with both sides, on this showing at least, proving they have the credentials to be fighting it out at the top end of the fifth tier.

On the selection front, Craig Harrison made just the one change from the side who were beaten by Eastleigh last week with new boy James Thorne coming in for Rhys Oates up top.

After a bright opening from the home side, Pools netted on the break. Ryan Donaldson, who found space at will on the right hand side, ghosted in to nod a miscued Jonathan Franks volley in at the back post.

Totally in control Pools looked to add to their lead, with Thorne going close and Liam Donnelly’s flicked header inches away from making it 2-0.

Against the run of play came the equaliser, though. A corner from the right was guided home, via a deflection off Louis Laing, by Philpot.

As so often happens in football the goal just before the break saw the pendulum swing in the home side’s favour. But Pools continued to pose a threat - Devante Rodney nipped in between defender and keeper to flick towards goal but it came off the outside of the post.

Harrison’s men had to weather a storm as the pace of Bobson Bawling and physical presence of Effiong, gave them problems, but weather it they did to bag a share of the spoils.

Pools resilience was particularly impressive.

Many a team has collapsed under intense pressure, especially with a makshift defence. But depsite conceding on half-time, Pools did not conform to the notion that team’s fall to pieces in that scenario.

They kept the opposition at bay, defended manfully, shut the door. It was a rearguard action of the finest order, akin with Leyton Orient last time out.

One of the biggest criticisms of this group last season was that they lacked the bottle for a fight. This could not be further from the truth now.

Everyone seems to be battling for the badge, the fans and the manager, who has without doubt been a galvanising influence in these most difficult of times in the football club’s recent, turbulent history.