Pools analysis: Hartlepool United 1 Yeovil 1, Much promise from Louis Rooney, Andrew Nelson

Padraig Amond celebrates his goal
Padraig Amond celebrates his goal

Winning is not everything to Dave Jones. It’s the only thing.

The new Hartlepool United boss is not uprooting himself and Mrs Jones to move up here just to see out his working days until he is eligible for his bus pass.

It was the way Pools went about it which was most refreshing to see


He is here to achieve and it would be a brave person who bets against him.

But while Jones is here to win, Saturday’s draw with Yeovil Town is likely to be greeted with a glass-half-full assessment rather than glass-half-empty.

Yes Pools were pegged back from a winning position, Hartlepool lad Matty Dolan equalising from the penalty spot for the Glovers just five minutes after Padraig Amond’s great header had put the home side ahead in the 64th minute.

You probably should not judge a book by its cover but there are already early signs of promise from Pools under Jones, even though he has only been here for three Saturdays.

Admittedly Pools did not win against a mid-table side but this season they have lost at home to much worse teams than Town. It was the way Pools went about it which was most refreshing to see.

Before kick-off there was an ambitious selection from Jones, who sent out both of his loan signings, Andrew Nelson and Louis Rooney.

Neither forward has appeared in many starting XIs this season. In fact, in Rooney’s case, none. The 20-year-old had left the bench three times for home club, Plymouth Argyle (twice in the FA Cup), while Nelson, 19, has been a perennial sub for Sunderland U23.

Whether it was instant judgement, given he’d only seen them a couple of times in training at Maiden Castle, or instinct, but Jones was vindicated in his decision.

The duo produced exciting debuts in an attack-minded formation.

It was, to a degree, reminiscent of the opening weeks of the season when Craig Hignett squeezed all his attackers into the same XI.

Rooney took the lead role, assisted by the excellent Amond, who linked superbly with his partner and his other team-mates.

Nelson was a livewire down the right of midfield with Lewis Alessandra taking up some good positions on the left where, alas the end product did not match the build-up.

Nicky Featherstone and Brad Walker were installed as the ‘holding’ midfielders but the pair spent plenty of time in the attacking third, the skipper forever trying to find the probing pass with his younger partner bright going forward.

All was lively in the attacking areas but, just as importantly, this week there were no issues defensively.

Adam Bartlett was positive in all he did, leaving his line when he had to, while pulling off a point-saving stop late on from a Dolan free-kick.

He and his defence, seven days after being rumbled by the powerful Newport forwards, were faced with more giants but on this occasion there were no scares, dealing efficiently with six corners. In fact, the way Pools opened up, it looked as though little would be seen of the Glovers – Bartlett’s first touch of the ball was in the ninth minute.

Rooney had a shot saved by Artur Krysiak while he played a lovely ball to Alessandra who sent through Walker only for the midfielder to run it out of play.

But the platform was there, Amond’s sublime lob landing on the top of the net after Rooney’s flick-on while Alessandra fired over after a great pass by Nelson.

Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro blazed over for the visitors.

But there were no tears in the home ranks, with Matt Butcher also going over at the end of the half.

After the break, Nelson beat his marker, twice, to send in a good ball to the six-yard box where Rooney looked certain to score, only for Krysiak to make an outstanding reaction save.

Nelson was at it again in the 53rd minute, his ball forward seeing Rooney get around the Polish stopper. He shot towards goal but wily old defender Darren Ward showed his experience by being back to make the block.

However, the breakthrough duly came in the 64th minute and it had a ‘made in Sunderland’ stamp on it. Nelson swung over a beautiful cross which Amond headed beyond Krysiak from 15 yards at the Prostate Cancer UK Town End.

Alas the joy of the fans lasted a mere five minutes. Having teed up Amond, Nelson would have another assist to his same, sadly for Yeovil’s equaliser.

Jones, afterwards, described his challenge on Francois Zoko as “over-enthusiastic” while irrepressible BBC Tees commentator Ivan Ash said it was a “centre-forward’s tackle”. Both were correct. His lunge brought down the Ivory Coast man and referee Michael Salisbury pointed to the spot.

Dolan stuck the ball low into Bartlett’s bottom right corner with the goalie diving to his left.

Rooney’s low 78th-minute shot went narrowly wide after a fine Pools move but the later stages were pretty much all Yeovil as the home side’s energetic approach took its toll.

Bartlett rescued his side with a super save to his right from a Dolan free-kick while Matthew Bates made a timely block on a Zoko shot.

Not even an appearance by Nathan Thomas could change the flow of the game, the winger looking a wee bit rusty. Just like Nathan’s number, Pools were worth a seven for their display, the signs are certainly good.