Talking points as the dust settles on Hartlepool United's draw with Rochdale

Devante Rodney came back to haunt his former club with a 95th minute equaliser as Hartlepool United were made to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw with 10-man Rochdale on a frustrating Easter Monday afternoon.
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It was a game packed full of incident, from a Pools perspective both good and bad, as a last minute leveller denied the visitors three points that would have made it a perfect weekend.

Mismanagement and misjudgement deny Pools at the death

A comedy of errors cost Pools in the fifth and final minute of added time as the visitors conceded a goal that was almost entirely of their own making.

Pools were made to settle for a point during a frustrating afternoon in Greater Manchester as Devante Rodney cancelled out Joe Grey's opener.Pools were made to settle for a point during a frustrating afternoon in Greater Manchester as Devante Rodney cancelled out Joe Grey's opener.
Pools were made to settle for a point during a frustrating afternoon in Greater Manchester as Devante Rodney cancelled out Joe Grey's opener.
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As the dust settles, it is hard not to feel at least some sympathy for young Chay Cooper, although his decision to try a flick rather than keeping the ball in the corner, which would have won Pools the game, was hard to fathom.

The 22-year-old was on the wrong end of a tongue lashing from his teammates, particularly skipper Nicky Featherstone and experienced defender Tom Parkes, as 30 seconds later his naivety resulted in Rochdale's equaliser.

It must have been a bitter pill to swallow for Cooper, who up to that point had probably his best game in a Pools shirt after coming on for Terrell Agyemang in the 70th minute.

He made a couple of telling defensive contributions, notably to deny the lively Cian Hayes, looked comfortable whenever he had the ball at his feet and swung in one teasing cross that wasn't too far away from leading to a second goal.

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Had he not played quite so well, and not been feeling quite so confident, he might not have tried to flick that cost Pools at the end; either way, it is something he will have to learn from and, having been lambasted by his teammates, is unlikely to do again.

Even after Cooper's lack of know-how gave possession back to the hosts, Pools should have done better to deal with a bouncing ball that dissected three defenders and allowed former Poolie Devante Rodney in to equalise.

In defence of Tom Parkes, Luke Waterfall and Louis Stephenson, the trio had been pretty much faultless all afternoon and would have been good value for a second successive clean sheet.

Their defensive line was unusually disjointed, although that could be put down to the fact that they were expecting Cooper to run the clock down rather than gift Dale the ball back.

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Once Devante Rodney, who could outrun most defences, got in behind neither Parkes nor Waterfall were ever going to be able to catch him and, despite the best efforts of a determined Stephenson to recover from being caught a bit flat-footed, Pools were made to pay for a catalogue of mistakes that cost them the perfect Easter weekend.

Wastefulness in front of goal

The series of errors at the end should have been merely academic but Pools were unable to put the game to bed despite a number of presentable chances.

The best of them fell to Callum Cooke, who found himself through on goal following a perfectly-weighted through ball from Joe Grey, but as a Dale defender closed in he fired a tame effort straight at Australian goalkeeper Jacob Chapman and in truth never really looked like scoring.

Cooke was not the only one to pass up a good opportunity, although supporters will be frustrated that their side never quite put them 10-men of Rochdale to the sword and ended up inviting pressure towards the end of the game.

Kairo Mitchell sees red

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The general consensus seems to be that the Grenadian international was harshly treated by referee Richard Eley.

Large sections of the Dale faithful felt Tom Parkes did their man no favours with his reaction to the challenge, although there has never been anything in his time at Pools to suggest he'd feign an injury.

While the red card unsurprisingly changed the momentum of the game, tipping the balance in favour of Pools, Kevin Phillips and his side will have left the Crown Oil Arena feeling like they didn't make the most of the man advantage against a Rochdale team who boasted two impressive flying full-backs but looked vulnerable defensively.

Too pedestrian in midfield

One of the reasons that Pools were perhaps unable to exploit the depleted Dale is that they were a little too cumbersome in possession.

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A criticism, often unfairly, levelled at the likes of Nicky Featherstone and Tom Crawford, the visitors were a bit slow to move the ball in Greater Manchester.

While it's worth bearing in mind the conditions at the Crown Oil Arena were the worse for recent wet weather, neither side passed with too much zip when they had it and Pools seemed to feel like one goal would be enough to win them the game.

Lack of pace out wide

Pools boss Kevin Phillips has often lamented his side's lack of pace in wide areas.

When he came in, he signed Courtney Senior to add some genuine pace on the flank, but since his return to parent club Barnet, coupled with injuries to Phillips' other options on the wing, Pools have had to change tack somewhat.

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Although Joe Grey and Louis Stephenson again dovetailed well down the right, Pools are not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to creating a threat down the left, nor does Phillips have much available to him on the bench.

Terrell Agyemang, who started in place of Courtney Duffus on Monday, produced one magical moment when he controlled the ball on his chest before flicking it beyond his opposing full-back but his lack of pace means he struggles when trying to go down the line and beyond his man.

Phillips warned of the need for wholesale changes to his squad this summer and the addition of at least two natural wingers will surely be right at the top of his shopping list.

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