What we learned from Hartlepool United's two goal collapse at home to AFC Fylde in the National League

2-0 up, nine minutes to go, Hartlepool United were well on course to pick up their second victory of the season against promotion hopefuls AFC Fylde.

Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 12:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 12:51 pm
Gime Toure celebrates after scoring their second goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and AFC Fylde at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 13th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

It would have been a warranted win for Craig Hignett's side, who frustrated The Costers and proved effective on the counter-attack thanks to two devastating finishes from ex-Fylde forward Gime Toure.

Pools showed a different side to their game compared to their dominant display at Maidenhead on Saturday. They allowed Fylde to have possession and got bodies behind the ball.

But a quickfire double late on from Ryan Croasdale – the first a dubious close range strike that was vocally protested by the Pools players and the second a fine looping header – saw Fylde snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.

Once the first goal went in there was always the sense that a second would soon follow, this is Pools after all.

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But even after Fylde drew level, Hartlepool ought to have won the game as Michael Raynes came close and deep into stoppage time Niko Muir should have made it 3-2.

An argument could be made that the substitutions affected United’s momentum. But a fatigued Ryan Donaldson coming off for a fresh Luke James made sense at the time as did Jason Kennedy replacing Liam Noble, so it’s hard to be too critical in that regard.

The turning point in the game was at 2-0 when Pools had two good chances to put the game to bed. Gime Toure charged at goal with James to his right but opted to shoot instead of playing in the substitute – later James did the same instead of picking out Toure inside the box.

Good teams like Fylde are always capable of punishing that failure to be clinical in the final third.

Pools started the match with three centre-backs as part of a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation but reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the second half which left them more vulnerable though still proved effective in executing the counter-attacking game plan.

Although it worked for 80-minutes, welcoming the Fylde pressure can be a risky strategy, everything has to be spot on and unfortunately two lapses ultimately cost Pools a deserved three points.