York 0 Pools 0: Craig Hope’s match report

ON THE CHARGE: Steve Howard in action against York City
ON THE CHARGE: Steve Howard in action against York City

ONE point gained or two points dropped?

Having been fed a diet of defeat so far this season – and last - perhaps Pools followers will welcome the former of those two viewpoints, a crumb of comfort at last.

But for the 1,700 sodden supporters who ventured to Bootham Crescent, it will no doubt be the latter which is their overriding emotion.

For Saturday’s opponents were dreadful, a side surely headed for a season-long struggle at the wrong end of the bottom tier.

That could still be argued for Pools and, without addition, they will populate those same relegation-threatened waters.

But news on that front appears positive and striking reinforcement is expected in the coming days.

They certainly need it.

Creativity, composure, conversion – three ‘Cs’ for ‘double C’ – Colin Cooper – to concern himself with.

Pools, at present, boast none of the above.

York custodian Michael Ingham was not drawn into a single save despite his team-mates’ obvious deficiencies.

The hosts were slow and sloppy, discipline perhaps their sole strength.

But Pools were unable to unlock such rigid resistance and, on the few occasions they did carve an opening, finesse was lacking in the final act.

There was no finer example of such profligacy than the second-half break which presented a chance to Jack Compton.

Brad Walker, the teenager who continues to belie his tender, teenager years, hared down the right wing before squaring for his comrade.

Compton, with an entire target at which to aim, instead located the travelling contingent behind the goal – it was a wild execution, befitting of a game with was desperately short on quality.

James Poole was again his side’s best bet for a goal, still, though, he is searching for the finish to match his fine approach play.

Steve Howard, recalled for his first start, demonstrated his best work too far from the areas that matter.

A tidy touch or a forehead flick are very well – and Howard deserves credit – but strikers trade in the currency of goals and the big man never truly threatened in that respect.

There were two legitimate penalty claims in the first half when both Howard and Poole were felled, and you get the feeling it could take a spot-kick, deflection or even an own-goal to end this scoreless stretch.

There was another late chance when Compton’s far-post centre was returned into the goalmouth by the brow of Andy Monkhouse, but the visitors watched as a home defender hammered clear.

Monkhouse later commented that that very passage was symptomatic of Pools’ problems in front of the posts – a tap-in to be had if only someone had gambled.

However, while we bemoan the merits of the offence, let us celebrate the defence.

For in the form of Christian Burgess, 21, and Jack Baldwin, 20, Pools have a centre-back pairing who are headed for higher plains than the division in which they currently reside.

To simplify, the duo kicked, headed and opposed everything which came their way at Bootham Crescent – they were outstanding.

For the masses of Pools supporters who filled the away end, add one to that number in the shape of visiting goalkeeper Scott Flinders.

He was rendered redundant as a result of his protection unit and later admitted that his side were never likely to concede.

Flinders was right.

But so, too, was Monkhouse.

Never has a scoreline, 0-0, served to highlight more the strengths and weaknesses of one side.

Clean sheets, however, only guarantee a point.

Goals are the goal for which Cooper and the club’s fans long.

We’re still waiting.