MATCH REPORT: Just how many more unwanted records will Pools break?

Scott Flinders in action against MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID
Scott Flinders in action against MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID

DEPENDING upon your interpretation of statistics, this team could now be considered among the worst in the club’s history.

For it is now official, no other side in 104 years of Poolie existence has endured a more severe winless stretch – 21 matches for those keeping count.

It means an unwanted entry in the record books – pencilled for now, for before it is inked you fear the number will extend yet further.

At no point on Saturday was its confirmation in doubt.

There is a horrible inevitability about this campaign, a foreboding that fortunes will simply never improve.

In short, the players just aren’t good enough.

John Hughes, you feel, has already ascertained as much.

So much for the new-manager effect?

This was his fourth defeat in five, during which time two have been scored and 11 conceded.

Little-to-no blame can be laid at his door, however, the birth of this horrific run dates way before his arrival.

It is a run which many observers believe “has to end some time” – but does it?

On the evidence of the season to date, there is precious little to indicate anything other than a further four months of defeat, punctuated by the odd draw and, if we’re lucky, one or two wins.

Ten days ago Stevenage strode out fairly comfortable 2-0 winners at the Vic in what was widely considered Pools’ best display of the season – that in itself paints a worrying picture.

On Saturday, the margin of defeat was halved, but the performance was way short of the previous weekend.

An article in the local Milton Keynes press earlier in the week had dismissed the notion of their forthcoming match being considered something of a “training exercise”.

That it was suggested in the first place was an insult to Pools and Hughes.

But, during the first half, it was hard to get away from that practice-match scenario.

It was like “situation football” – attack versus defence.

The gulf in class was as astonishing as it was alarming.

Pools just could not get near their opponents.

When they did happen upon chance possession it was returned to its rightful owners in double-quick time.

Opening after opening was presented to the hosts, yet only one was taken.

The decisive goal arrived on 16 minutes when an ill-executed offside trap allowed the unattended Ryan Lowe to volley through the grasp of Scott Flinders.

Being goalkeeper of Pools right now certainly presents you with opportunity to shine.

Flinders, during the first half, did just that.

He denied Lowe a second with a flying save and again took flight to claw clear an Angelo Balanta curler.

Stephen Gleeson, slamming on goal from 25 yards, and Luke Chadwick, sizing a steer towards the bottom corner from the edge of the area, also found Flinders impassable.

Yes, after the break Pools were better, but it was an improvement brought about in part by the Dons’ demise, for they were poor in the second half.

It was, perhaps, a complacency born from the ease with which they had bossed the previous 45 minutes.

Charlie Wyke, the Middlesbrough loanee, came closest to salvaging a point for Pools but his sweet half-volley was kept out by David Martin.

The Dons belatedly pressed for a second and Chadwick was again thwarted by Flinders and Darren Potter crashed against the crossbar.

In terms of positives for Hughes, Ritchie Humphreys was the one visiting player who refused to gift the ball to their hosts, his recent form has been commendable.

Flinders was excellent, Jack Baldwin did okay, as did Wyke, but other than that it was another sub-standard outing.

This weekend, with Portsmouth the visitors, marks the halfway point of the campaign.

With just nine points on board they have the worst record of all 92 league clubs.

They have made their worst-ever start to a season and set a new winless record in the process.

You have to worry – just how many more unwanted records will they break between now and April?