Liam Kennedy’s Hartlepool analysis: Weather or performances? Are Poolies voting with their feet?

Luke James battles with Jordan Tunnicliffe of AFC Fylde during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and AFC Fylde at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 27th November 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)'�MI News & Sport Ltd'Tel: +44 7752 571576'e-mail: markf@mediaimage.co.uk'Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL
Luke James battles with Jordan Tunnicliffe of AFC Fylde during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and AFC Fylde at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 27th November 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)'�MI News & Sport Ltd'Tel: +44 7752 571576'e-mail: markf@mediaimage.co.uk'Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL

SIX defeats on the bounce in the National League. No league win since October 6. EIGHT points off the play offs and 19 off the top.

The statistics make grim reading for Hartlepool United.

But perhaps the grimmest stat of them all, isn’t one that comes from the pitch, although it, without doubt, emanates from performances on it.

Just 1,721 Poolies turned up to see Matthew Bates’ men beaten 2-1 by AFC Fylde last night.

Are fans voting with their feet as Pools’ season begins to unravel? On this issue, only time will tell.

It was a bitterly cold night, the rain barely stopped up to kick off, but crowds like this have been rarely seen at Pools, if ever, despite their struggles, on and off the park.

The drop from the Barnet home game was more than 1,000.

It may well have been the perfect storm for a bad crowd, pardon the pun, but that kind of attendance will send alarm bells ringing in the directors’ box.

Bums on seats helps pay bills. Empty seats is Raj Singh and Jeff Stelling et al’s worst nightmare.

The crowd v Dagenham will be the barometer.

On to the match itself, while Dover Athletic was a shocker, this was not so cut and dried.

While Pools were second best in every department they were still in it, in terms of chances. Again, though, it was too little, too late, which is becoming an all too familiar story.

Danny Rowe gave visitors Fylde the lead on the stroke of half time before Arthur Gnahoua doubled the visitors advantage.

Liam Noble then tucked in his eighth of the campaign from the spot in the closing 10 minutes but it again Pools were unable to muster an equaliser.

Having been the centre of controversy on Saturday, Noble was recalled to the substitutes bench, while Matthew Bates made two changes from the side beaten at Dover.

In came Conor Newton and Josh Hawkes, with Tyrone O’Neill and Peter Kioso dropping out. The game also saw a switch in system to a 4-2-3-1.

The first 45, much like 70 minutes on Saturday, was one Pools will be keen to forget.

Carl Magnay saved Pools’ early blushes by clearing one off the line before Scott Loach had to be at his very best to deny a Gime Toure header from close range.

The home side’s luck only lasted so far, though. Come the 44th minute they were behind. Rowe headed home a cross from the left for 1-0.

At the other end, Pools had threatened, with Ryan Donaldson fluffing his lines when just six yards from goal and the impressive Josh Hawkes trying his luck from distance after one of his now trademark mazy runs.

Chasing their tails yet again, Pools never really looked like getting back into this one.

Rowe was again denied by Loach when clean through before Donaldson was denied quite brilliantly by Jay Lynch at the other end.

A double save from Loach kept Pools in it but the inevitable came on 74 when substitute Gnahoua cracked in a second.

An inexplicable handball in the area handed Pools a lifeline on 84. Noble, in from the cold, made no mistake from 12 yards but Pools again left themselves with too much of a mountain to climb.