Kelly’s Eye: WAs Carl Magnay right to speak on Hartlepool United’s need for goal ace?

Dunan Watmore on the comeback trail. Picture by FRANK REID
Dunan Watmore on the comeback trail. Picture by FRANK REID

Just where will Hartlepool United find a 20-goal-per-season sharp-shooter to fire them to promotion?

Your columnist is not averse to starting Kelly’s Eye with a question and that’s not a bad one, is it?

To be fair, it wasn’t really my question. It was posed by Pools captain, Carl Magnay, when he faced the mass ranks of the media following the team’s 2-1 defeat by Eastleigh.

When I say massed ranks, BBC, ITV, Sky, BT, Telegraph, Times, Sun, Express, Guardian, Horse & Hound, Radio Times and Viz were NOT there, it was just BBC Tees, a chubby chap from your night Mail, Hartlepool Life and the Non League Paper.

Will Pools and, in particular, boss Craig Harrison, thank Magnay from bringing up the prickly issue of who will score the goals that could take the club back to the Football League at the first time of asking? Possibly not.

In an era when too often bland questions from us clowns in the press are met by equally-bland answers from the subjects, we should be thankful to the 28-year-old for his frankness.

Magnay is a smashing fella it has to be said and genuinely proud to captain Pools. Judging by his comments, he is also genuinely concerned.

“We need a number nine who is going to bang in 20 goals-plus for us,” he told us hacks. “We have to have that if we are to be successful.

“We are creating chances but we have to be ruthless.

“Devante and Connor, in general play, have done well and they’ve ruffled feathers at the back.

“But when those opportunities land, they have to hit the back of the net, that’s their job. The centre-halves have been accountable this season and they [the front men] have to be accountable.”

If you were not there and you just read the quotes in black and white, it would appear a little critical of Messrs Rodney and Simpson.

Far from it, the 28-year-old spoke highly of them, but added that at the ages of 19 and 17 they are works in progress rather than the finished article. Certainly, the teenagers have their strengths and they caused problems to the Eastleigh defence.

But Pools do need to find a scorer or start sharing the goals around.

While they are not constrained by the transfer window, realistically Pools may struggle to buy a goal ace even if they found one, or meet the exorbitant wages.

Finding an out-of-work one sounds implausible though not impossible. If you turn your minds back to 2001, then Pools boss Chris Turner pulled a rabbit out of the hat called Flash.

He enticed Gordon Watson from the golf course persuading him to replace the Nick Faldo sweater with a blue and white shirt.

Kelly’s Eye is sure Craig Harrison will have his feelers out there, but the best bet is the loan market. That could either involve a club wanting to get their young whipper-snapper of a forward some exposure in men’s football or perhaps rehabilitate an injured player into a decent standard of football after injury and get him ready and firing for a return to their first-team squad.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Simon Grayson sent Duncan Watmore down the A19 for a month or two of regular football? OK, perhaps Pools could not get him, but someone of that ilk.

Pools have only mustered 11 goals to date, Jonathan Franks scoring four. Of the other scorers Jake Cassidy, with two, and Keith Watson are injured and Padraig Amond has left the club and is, annoyingly, sticking the ball in the net for Newport.

It has to be said that goals do not automatically buy you a place in the top seven – fifth-placed Wrexham have scored fewer goals, 10 in fact, but, on the flip side, have only conceded six.

If you calculated the Pools tally over the whole season they would come out with 42 goals. You’d like to think the total will grow anyway, but a look over the last four seasons of the National League show what a title winner needs to aspire to – the goal range of the champions goes between 83 (Lincoln last season) and 102 (Luton in 2014).

Among the ‘goals-for’ column of the play-off contestants in the same period, Braintree made it into the top five with 56, it’s true, look it up, while Grimsby and Aldershot both qualified in the mid-60s.

It is not a time to panic, given Pools are hardly marooned – they are only five points off the top seven and they are playing all right. After a first half on Saturday when they were not quite at the races, the second period was much me like it, with several decent chances created.

The fact chances were spurned probably was the spark which lit Magnay’s fuse. Was he right? Or should he have kept schtum, Kelly’s Eye is not sure of the answer.

Harrison wants to give the current crop the opportunity to come to the fore. It is both a noble and positive thought and the lads deserve a chance. But the club do need to keep their eyes peeled. Don’t they?