Liam Kennedy's Hartlepool United analysis: Lack of firepower proving costly for Pools

Andrew Davies sees an effort go wide for Pools on a frustrating day.
Andrew Davies sees an effort go wide for Pools on a frustrating day.

Firepower. It’s what can make the difference at every level of football.

A lack of it can see teams struggle and the opposite can hide a multitude of sins.

While Hartlepool United have a midfield capable of controlling the tempo, although, they did not against Aldershot, a goalkeeper as good, if not better than any at this level and one above and a defence more than capable of keeping things tight, they lack a real threat in the final third.

It is a problem which is starting to become more and more apparent as we get deeper in to the National League season.

Now, let’s not try to be too critical.

Pools have got two strikers who in their own right are very good players.

Niko Muir, after his quite brilliant strike on Saturday, has four goals to his name is a player who looks like a National League-ready player now.

His ability to find space between the lines is top class, as well as cleverness on the ball and finishing when in the right position.

Then there is Luke James. You will have to go a long, long way to find a striker who will work harder than the Poos frontman.

His running of the channels and chasing of every lost cause, no doubt adds value to this team.

The problem is, though, as good as they are as individuals, as a partnership they do not look like they’ve got the goalscoring prowess to hurt teams in the division.

James, in particular, does not get in the box anywhere near enough to look like scoring and I think the fact he has a return of just one goal, having started every one of Pools’ 14 fifth tier games, proves that entirely.

All too often already this season, Pools have let a lead slip to drop points. That’s six points dropped at the Super 6 Stadium - against Aldershot, Eastleigh and Harrogate Town - after being ahead alone. And that’s without looking at the point at basement boys Braintree Town.

If you want to achieve promotion from the division there has to come a day where Pools will turn a one goal lead into two and then three. They did not even get close to that on Saturday.

And it is costing them dear as things stand.

While the focus of this piece may well be on the strikers, others did not hit their own personal heights on the day either.

The midfield did not stamp their authority as we know they can as well as the defence looked a little suspect, particularly down the left.

All in all this was not the best of days for Pools, who looked tired and leggy after a relentless opening to life in the fifth tier.

On to the action itself, it was a clever link up between Muir and Michael Woods which created the goal just after the half hour.

Muir found Woods who flicked over the top of the Shots backline for the frontman to chase and with the keeper advancing Muir guided a looping, left-footed lob over the top of Jake Cole for 1-0.

While Pools were much the better side they continued to leave the trapdoor open and they were inevitability made to pay on 62 when Matt McClure smashed past a helpless Loach for 1-1.

The result did not see Pools’ position in the table alter but it was not the ‘bounce back’ performance many had hoped for. Pools remain eighth and are now six points off Salford at the top of the table.