Harra horror show as Pools revert to type with miserable display

Carl Magnay and Louis Laing in action last night.
Carl Magnay and Louis Laing in action last night.

Last night was a relegation six-pointer.

Sadly, watching Hartlepool United, you’d never have guessed it.

After the relative highs of the Woking win at the weekend, Pools dipped to new lows getting thoroughly beaten at the Shay by a part-time Halifax Town outfit, who have relegation fears of their own.

Three points separate Pools and the bottom four. By the week, they are edging ever closer to stepping into the abyss of the National League North.

With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, Nathan Hotte and Ben Tomlinson netted to ensure Pools were sent back North with nothing to show from what was a torrid evening.

On the selection front, boss Craig Harrison made just the one change from the side who beat Woking - Luke George making way for returning skipper Carl Magnay, who came back into the side after suspension.

As far as openings go, this was a rather low key one from Pools. Michael Woods had the first meaningful effort towards goal - a 25 yard skidding strike, that skimmed the post - but apart from that foray into enemy territory, Pools were largely on the back foot in the early exchanges.

The Shaymen, with massive relegation worries themselves, sprayed the ball around with confidence, using the flanks and timely balls over the top to create openings. They had the ball in the net after a quarter hour but Shaun Tutton’s chip over the head of Scott Loach was ruled out for offside.

Despite being clearly second best Pools managed to keep Halifax at arms length, restricting them to set-pieces and long-range efforts, in what was a bit of a damp squib of an opening 45 on what was a rainy, wet and windy West Yorkshire night.

Devante Rodney, who netted his first league goal of the season on Saturday, was within inches of an opener on the stroke of half-time, but a goal-saving challenge from Cliff Moyo kept things level at the break.

Having struggled to gain a foothold in the first, Pools came transformed in the second. Rhys Oates and Devante Rodney got some joy in the wide areas, while Woods and Conor Newton were given licence to get up and support loan frontman Jake Cassidy.

And it was the 25-year-old striker who went within inches of putting Pools a goal to the good - a floated free-kick from the right found Cassidy at the back post but his low header cleared the far post.

Having started brighter after the break Pools found themselves pinned back as the half wore on. Loach had to be at his best to stop a Jake Hibbs header before the hosts made their dominance count with less than 20 minutes left on the clock.

And it was a fortuitous strike for Hotte that got the Shaymen rolling - his low strike from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection, before nestling in the bottom corner of Loach’s goal.

Within three minutes it was game over for Harrison’s men as yet more awful defending allowed Halifax to get on the offensive, with Tomlinson reacting quickest to head in after Loach had saved a low shot from distance.

And with that it was curtains for Pools, whose win against Woking now seems a million miles way.

Pressure ahead of the home clash with Ebbsfleet is building, with a lot of the weekend good work undone on a miserable night.

Well, at least the trips won’t quite be as long next season. What a sad, depressing thought that is. Is this really what proud Hartlepool United have become?