LED FROM THE DOCK: Pools woe, Boro on high, Cats need goals, Toon off to Emirates

TV TIMES: Alan Shearer and DAn Walker (right)  talking to Blyth scorer Jarrett Rivers. Picture by FRANK REID
TV TIMES: Alan Shearer and DAn Walker (right) talking to Blyth scorer Jarrett Rivers. Picture by FRANK REID

BET it comedy or drama, the BBC’s famed scriptwriters rarely disappoint.

Yet even they must have been impressed by the BAFTA-esque performance conjured up by Hartlepool United in front of the corporation’s cameras on Friday night.

The humiliating 2-1 defeat by non-league neighbours Blyth Spartans was the box-office giantkilling the Beeb desired and signalled the end of manager Paul Murray’s brief tenure.

After bossing proceedings in the first half, fear set in when that second goal did not arrive and their opponents duly started to gain in confidence.

Yes, we can talk about Marlon Harewood’s goal that wasn’t, a penalty that wasn’t and a late effort against the woodwork.

All they indicate is that maybe Pools did not give up as easily as has been unfairly suggested in some quarters.

But a league club, even the bottom club in the bottom league, should still have enough about them to put such bad luck to one side and defeat non-league opponents on their own turf.

Now to the search for Hartlepool’s third boss of an increasingly ominous season.

Murray’s departure comes less than a week after former Pools number two Craig Hignett left a similar position as Aitor Karanka’s assistant at Middlesbrough.

Yet Hignett, a la Murray and Colin Cooper before him, has no managerial experience of his own.

My hunch instead would be Brian Laws.

His managerial record is far from unblemished, I accept that, but at least he knows his way around the lower leagues and has two promotions to prove it.

Whatever IOR’s poison, the new man needs to be appointed unusually quickly before the quickfire round of festive fixtures ahead.

Any undue delay and the six-point gap to safety may soon become an unbridgeable chasm.

WHATEVER did or didn’t go on between Hignett and Karanka has had no adverse effect just yet on Middlesbrough’s promotion challenge.

Last Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Millwall means Boro have yet another chance to go top when they entertain current leaders Derby County at the Riverside Stadium this Saturday lunchtime.

With the game live on Sky and County managed by former Boro boss, dare I say legend, Steve McClaren, there is a temptation to over-hype the occasion.

So what if it is a cagey affair that ends in another frustrating home draw?

Boro have recovered from several such stalemates already this season against fellow challengers Watford, Bournemouth and Blackburn.

That’s why they are so high in the Championship table.

The fans know from experience – not always pleasurable - how patient McClaren’s sides can be and the last thing Karanka and co need is to be caught out by a late sucker punch because they have blindly chased a winner.

PATIENCE is also a game Sunderland are getting good at playing following their fifth 0-0 draw of the league season.

Their deserved point at Liverpool was tribute once again to a supremely organised backline in which veterans John O’Shea and Wes Brown were outstanding.

Manager Gus Poyet’s dilemma now is whether to stick to such tactics during a run of potentially far more winnable games.

Battening down the hatches to secure draws against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool is one thing.

But surely a sequence of matches against West Ham, Newcastle, Hull and Aston Villa offers Sunderland the opportunity to boost their worrying output of just 13 goals in 15 Premier League games?

NEWCASTLE United’s heroic 2-1 victory over league leaders Chelsea was typical of the torture endured by their fans even in moments of rare triumph.

Comfortably leading 2-0 with less than 10 minutes to go, the Magpies lost a man and a goal in quick succession before spending most of more than six minutes of added time camped on the edge of their own six-yard box.

Now there is the inconvenience of a trip to Arsenal this Saturday teatime before a potentially season-defining week in which they face Tottenham away in the Capital One Cup quarter-final and Sunderland at home in the league.

With 23 points already banked from just 15 games, could manager Alan Pardew be excused for fielding a squad side at the Emirates?

Such a move certainly did not do any harm when they won 2-0 at Manchester City in the last round of the Capital One Cup and may just keep key players fresh for the quarter-final and derby.