Liam Kennedy’s analysis: Plenty of positives for Pools as fortune favours the brave

Pools' Lewis Hawkins plays a through ball at Macclesfield in last night's 1-1 draw. Picture by Steve Flynn/
Pools' Lewis Hawkins plays a through ball at Macclesfield in last night's 1-1 draw. Picture by Steve Flynn/

Fortune favours the brave, and for Craig Harrison his decision to play two up top, away from home, with an equally as attacking midfield paid dividends.

Pools had to fight tooth and nail to earn their first National League point on the road in what proved to be an entertaining encounter at Moss Rose.

And while Pools were head and shoulders above their opponents, particularly in the second period, a point on the road cannot be seen as a bad thing, especially after the weekend no show against Dover Athletic.

He made an impressive cameo off the bench on Saturday, but Jake Cassidy grabbed the bull by the horns on his first Pools start.

His physical approach, winning of headers, turning of defenders and bringing of others into play was something that Pools lacked against the Whites at the Vic.

He was the focal point the midfield and backline was crying out for and the dream partner for last season’s top scorer, Padraig Amond.

His just reward came on 58 minutes when the former Guiseley striker nodded home a Ryan Donaldson cross just before the hour, cancelling out Danny Whitaker’s opener.

Harrison made just the one change from the side beaten by Dover on the first day – bringing in Cassidy up top, with Michael Woods dropping out of the side.

He might not have tweaked the personnel too much, but the formation was shifted around somewhat. Cassidy operated up front, with Amond and Jack Munns playing just off.

Devante Rodney, Nicky Featherstone and Blair Adams returned to the bench.

Pools got off to a decent start, carving out early opportunities for Munns, Cassidy and Donaldson.

But, after a positive opening 15, the home side began to get a foothold.

And after Scott Loach produced a world-class save to deny Whitaker, he was not to be denied a second time, when, on 38 minutes, the Macclesfield striker nodded in a right wing cross for 1-0.

After the break, with Pools needing a reaction, it was the home side who came out with renewed purpose.

Ryan Lloyd almost made it 2-0 six minutes after the breakm but his powerful effort from a zipped cross from the right was inches over the top.

At the other end,. Conor Newton showed fantastic technique to crack an 18-yard volley at goal, but it sailed wide of Shwan Jalal’s goal.

The leveller came just before the hour mark when a delightful cross from Donaldson, quiet to that point, was nodded home by Cassidy.

The goal seemed to spark Pools into life.

Within 90 seconds of the leveller, Harrison’s men should have been in front, Munns skewing an effort wide from eight yards.

As conditions worsened, the game unfolded into an end-to-end encounter, with Donaldson going close for Pools and Elliot Durrell almost netting for the Silkmen.

Butm despite six minutes added at the end, neither side could find a winner, and Harrison’s men had to settle for a deserved point on the road.

A point gained or two lost?

I think all told, having been behind at the break, it is fair to say this was one gained.

Saying that, though, there is absolutely no doubt Pools were easily the better side over the course of the 90.

They looked sharper on the ball, quicker without it. They pressured well and, without doubt, the big positive to come out of the encounter was the link-up between Cassidy and Irishman Amond up top.

They provided a real focal point with their physicality and size, as well as making sure the Silkmen’s backline did not get a minute’s piece with their constant hassling and harrying.

With that in mind, the manager must take a lot of credit also.

He was brave enough to come away from home and pick an attacking XI, not worrying about the opposition, more about what his own side could achieve. That has to be applauded.

And what Pools lacked in attacking intent on Saturday they more than made up for last night.

The one common denominator of the first two forays into fifth tier football was in the inability to prevent crosses coming into the box.

Liam Donnelly, as he was at the weekend, was all too exposed on the left, even with Lewis Hawkins providing cover, where Munns had failed to do so last time out.

Moving forward, it might the case that both Donnelly and Adams are employed together down the left, as they were for the final 20 minutes last night.

All told, there were a lot more positives to come from this. And Pools are finally at the National League party, having occupied bottom place at half-time.