MATCH ANALYSIS: Hartlepool United 0 Cambridge United 0

Rhys Oates in action for Hartlepool United against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID
Rhys Oates in action for Hartlepool United against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID

Time for change.

It’s a placard you often see at the big political rallies.

The Pools boss gave his backing to Bingham ... insisting it will turn for the summer signing from Mansfield


Don’t worry, not that you were, this reporter is not suggesting anything dramatic at Victoria Park.

Compared to 12 months ago, everything in the Hartlepool United garden is rosy.

Pools have 10 points and are closer to first place than last. Ronnie Moore has a younger and more athletic squad and the positives outweigh any negatives by a considerable margin.

On the subject of positives, the support too has been exactly that. Warm applause greeted the final whistle against Cambridge, even though the scoreline read 0-0.

The fans recognised the manner of the performance. After a slow start, Pools played some good football and created numerous openings and chances.

But, ultimately, the best thing had to be the clean sheet, which meant Pools had ended their run of four straight league defeats.

Alas, there were no goals at the right end and there should be no panic that for the second match running the opposition keeper did not have to bend his back to pick the ball out of his net.

Will Ronnie Moore look at either changing his system or his personnel?

It is a tricky one to call.

The 4-3-3 used for the majority of the campaign has been pretty much a success so it is surely worth persevering with.

Billy Paynter, Rakish Bingham and Scott Fenwick were the front three who started the season though Rhys Oates has, subsequently, taken the place of Fenwick.

Only Oates has yet to find the net, though he has shown plenty of promise in the last few matches.

Paynter the top scorer with four, leads the line and leads it very well.

So does Moore stick with Bingham, who has not scored since the first Saturday of the season or turn to Fenwick?

On Saturday, aside from a fluffed effort from Michael Woods, the best chances fell to the feet of Bingham.

The striker, with Usain Bolt pace, frightens the opposition defence but, currently, is not scaring the opposition keeper enough.

Granted, he was unlucky with half of his attempts on Saturday against the U’s.

Keeper Chris Dunn saved well from his first attempt and a defender blocked a sweetly-struck second-half effort. It would not be unkind to say that you would have wished the chances to have fallen to a Paynter or a Fenwick, who are the squad’s best two finishers.

The Pools boss gave his backing to Bingham in his post-match media conference, insisting it will turn for the summer signing from Mansfield.

Patience might well be a good virtue at this present time. Bingham does have that speed and, as proven on Saturday, is getting into the positions.

Yeovil, the next destination for Pools, are not pulling up any trees this season so Moore may well give a vote of confidence in his side and his strikers.

There was certainly another afternoon of promise following the unlucky defeat at Exeter seven days earlier.

It was nice to see more crosses coming in from Pools, some were awry, but the increase in number was encouraging and Jake Carroll got in his share. Given the lack of width in midfield it would be nice to see him forward even more and getting at the defenders.

Oates down the right and Brad Halliday showed plenty of forward spirit.

Oates and Carroll were responsible for two of the best first-half moments.

Carroll played in Nicky Featherstone, who thought he had ended a four-year wait for a goal when he beat Dunn to his left, only for the offside flag to ruin his celebrations.

Oates set up Woods in the 27th minute from a central position but the midfielder made a real hash of it. Luckily, the ball fell to Bingham whose shot was on target, but Dunn got down to his right to save.

Dunn also got down well to deny Paynter after he bulldozed his way through, the follow-up from Oates was deflected for a corner.

And when Dunn made his only real mistake, making a horlicks of a Woods corner, Elliot Omozusi nodded Scott Harrison’s header off the line. Dunn resumed his normal service five minutes from the break, making a great save from Halliday after the young defender had beaten three U’s defenders in a storming run down the right.

Cambridge had a few sights of the home goal. Adam Bartlett saved from a George Taft header early on, while Harrison Dunk rolled a shot the wrong side of the goalie’s right post. their best chance ended up being blocked by Mark Roberts, the captain getting in the way of a shot from defensive partner Leon Legge two minutes from the interval.

Pools had the better chances after the break too, but Bingham could not control after good work by Paynter and Oates. He did get his shot off just after the hour from Carroll’s left-wing cross only to see it blocked by a defender.

On 65 minutes he had a great opportunity but tried to swap feet and Cambridge nicked it away.

Moore brought on Fenwick who stretched, unsuccessfully, to get on the end of a teasing Oates ball eight minutes from time.

Brad Walker, on for Woods, provided some late impetus and even had a shot blocked in the last minute but Pools could not find the net.

Pools were patient and that could be the best policy.