Hartlepool United reserve team boss Ian McGuckin admits his side showed a degree of naïvety in their top of the table clash with Grimsby Town.
A late Louis Rooney leveller rescued a point for the young Pools side at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium yesterday, after Akeem Rose had opened the scoring for the Mariners with just five minutes left on the clock.
If this was a boxing match it would have been stopped
And McGuckin was pleased to avoid defeat, but disappointed his side did not take advantage and leapfrog Town to the top of the Central League table.
“If this was a boxing match, it would have been stopped,” he said.
“Football doesn’t turn out like that, though.
“Fair play to the young Grimsby side – they defended at all costs.
“We worked the ball well, created chances but could get the icing on the cake.
“We showed some naïvety, but that’s part of the learning process.
“The lads were disappointed. It was a surprise and we had to react to it.
“But in the end we could have went on to win it.
“Once we got the goal we showed the right reaction.”
After something of damp start, the game really ignited in the final quarter.
Hartlepool had been the team in the ascendency for the majority of the match, linking up well and successfully working the ball into wide areas on a number of occasions, particularly on their right hand side.
Carl Magnay, who completed 90 minutes for the first time since his injury, linked up well with Connor Smith throughout the game, the pair taking it in turns to get to the byline and deliver the ball.
However, despite all of the pressing from Pools, it was Grimsby who took the lead.
Breaking quickly, the visitors capitalised on some poor defending by Pools, which allowed Rose to tuck home from inside the area, leaving Ben Dudzinski with no chance.
The Mariners’ goal did not kill the Hartlepool momentum though, and the home team continued to press for a goal of their own, forcing Grimsby keeper Corey Briggs into a string of good saves, as well as hitting the woodwork and having an effort cleared off the line, as the match went on.
Eventually though, the home side were rewarded for their persistence, as Briggs failed to deal with a high ball into the box effectively, allowing Rooney to bundle home an equaliser.
Pools continued to press in the dying moments, but some brave Grimsby defending meant that their pressure was not rewarded with a winning goal.