Hartlepool United analysis: Pools continue to underline their promotion credentials for next season despite another National League loss

Scott Loach had to be at his very best to keep Pools on level terms - but it was the goalkeeper's second half error which proved costly.
Scott Loach had to be at his very best to keep Pools on level terms - but it was the goalkeeper's second half error which proved costly.

You could argue, if they secure promotion, Solihull Moors, off the park at least, are the least well equipped and smallest club to grace the Football League in a long time.

On the park, though, they could turn out to be one of the most sizeable.

Watching the two sides line up at the Super 6 Stadium it was like men and boys. From one to 11 Tim Flower’s men did not have a player under the six foot mark.

And for 45 minutes, Pools, who generally lack height and size throughout their side, could not cope with it.

Moor’s midfielder ran the game and things went from front to back, and wide, at speed, which caused Pools all kind of problems.

But a clever tactical tweak at half time by manager Craig Hignett and Pools got to grips with the game, looking the more likely to score.

That was until a moment Scott Loach will want to forget.

One ball into the box which he failed to clear, then dropped the follow up ended in the back of the net.

In normal circumstances it would be a 3/10 mark and a slaughtering of the goalie - not this time, though.

To evaluate Loach on that one mistake would be a disservice to the player, who was head and shoulders the best on the park - to that point.

While change has been the norm at Pools on and off the park, one constant has been Loach, who has played every single game since he arrived in the summer of 2017. His form has barely dipped in that time either.

For 45 minutes, this was the Loach show as he kept out the promotion-chasing Moors with a string of Football League class saves.

After just six minutes he got a left arm up to tip a rasping George Carline snapshot over the top. Soon after he was equal to Tyrone Williams’ close range header before Nathan Blissett was thwarted by Loach as he looked to turn in from six yards.

Danny Wright looked to have opened the scoring just before the half hour when his looping header from a cross from Pools’ left looked destined for the corner, only for Loach to palm it away at full stretch.

You can’t hide away from it, we saw the very best and worst of Loach on Saturday. But knowing the character that he is, it’ll not impact on him one bit. And were it not for his heroics early on, this game could well have been out of sight before Pools even got started.

Looking at the game as a whole Craig Hignett, while he’ll be upset at getting zero points from his last two, will take positives from it.

Pools have taken on two of the top sides in the fifth tier and it’s clear to see they have absolutely nothing to fear from either Eastleigh or Solihull Moors. The same can be said of Wrexham and Sutton United.

Pools did not really look like winning this one, or creating chances, but long gone are the days where they are outclassed by sides at the top.

And I think that’s a clear sign that with some clever recruitment - there is a definite need to add considerable height, size and some extra pace - they will be right in the mix this time next year.