Hartlepool United analysis: Winds of change shift Pools' problems as Craig Hignett's men are blown away by Fylde

It's either feast or famine when it comes to Hartlepool United this season.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:18 am
Hartlepool striker Nicke Kabamba.
Hartlepool striker Nicke Kabamba.

They've gone from being a team who struggle to score but keep it tight at the other end, to an outfit involved in a goalfest every week.

The clash at AFC Fylde's Mill Farm was no different.

Pools failed to make it a hat-trick of comeback results as they were beaten by two late Coasters strikes in a 4-2 loss.

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Danny Rowe gave the hosts the lead after just two minuted before Ryan Donaldson equalised. A Fraser Kerr own goal then put the Coasters in front before Josh Hawkes' goal straight from a corner deservedly put a plucky Pools on level terms. But with time ticking away Rowe bagged a second before substitute Lewis Walters made it 4-2 in added time.

It was a result which was very harsh on the visitors - who, on another day, would have headed back up the road with at least a share of the spoils.

The difference on the day? A stroke of luck and a very, very good National League striker in Rowe.

As expected, manager Craig Hignett switched formation for the visit to the north west, moving from a three man backline to a 4-2-3-1. Luke Molyneux came into the side for Mark Kitching, as well as Peter Kioso for Liam Noble.

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The changes were positive, but the start Pools made was anything but.

National League top scorer Rowe was in no mood to mess around as he cracked home left-footed after some hesitant defending by Pools' new look backline.

With Storm Gareth sweeping in off the Irish Sea, pot shots from strikers of both sides began to fly in as Scott Loach and opposite number Jay Lynch could barely spot the ball for a goalkick, never mind clear it out.

Growing in confidence the Pools midfield again opened up the Coasters' defence as Nicke Kabamba this time streaked free. Skipping inside his defender the on-loan Havant frontman then let loose with a vicious left-footed drive but it was beaten away by Lynch.

Having struggled to get to grip with the hosts early on, Pools ended the half the better of the sides - like last weekend, though, they went in at the break behind. As the hosts had done in the opening 45, Pools sprung out the traps in the second period - and they had to wait less than a minute for their equaliser. Donaldson picked the ball up on the right, 30 yards from goal and with the wind causing Loach problems at that end in the first half, the skipper tried his luck. With Lynch rooted to his spot the ball flew into the bottom corner for 1-1.

On top and searching for another Pools got caught at the other end - a cross from the right caught the knee of a backtracking Kerr and ricocheted into the back of the net.

Pools then had to weather a bit of a storm as the home side got on top. Scott Loach had to be at his very best to deny Nick Haughton as his back post strike forced the Pools keeper into a remarkable reaction stop.

From the rebound Kerr had to hack clear off the line as the ball looped in the wind.

Said wind continued to cause havoc at both ends and had a massive hand in both Pools' equaliser and Fylde's third With the cornerflags being blown horizontal, Hawkes decided to try his luck from a corner and much to the travelling Poolies delight, the ball floated directly into the net for 2-2.

Ten minutes remained, though, when Rowe was this time the recipient of the crazy conditions.

A cross from the right flicked up off Hawkes, got caught in the wind and flew into the six yard box for the National League top scorer to nod in.

Lewis Walters added a late fourth when a Serhat Tasdemir strike came back off the post, as Pools failed to emulate their heroics of Sutton and Dover.

This was another defeat in a season full of them, but things are very different now.

There were more positives than negatives from this performance, but Hignett certainly knows his team remains a work in progress, with his recruitment set to continue between now and the deadline on March 28.