Hartlepool v Luton Town, October 3rd 2015
Hartlepool v Luton Town, October 3rd 2015 by Billy Zinc.
The first game against Luton that I can remember was a cup match, against a side in a much higher division, either the (then) first or second. I recall Pools playing well but the match being marred by the performance of the infamous, head banded, pantomime villain, Steve Foster, who spent the whole match sitting on the refs shoulder, trying to (and mainly succeeding in) influencing his every decision. He was the Robbie Savage of the era spending more time winding up the opposition fans and players, than actually playing the game. I have an inkling that he was booked late in the second half, I'm not too sure but hope that I am right. Luton's fortunes have nosedived since those heady days, and they were recently playing non league football.
Today, after a poor midweek performance, Pools came out brightly, but in almost their first intrusion into the Hartlepool half, Luton shocked the home fans and delighted the many away fans by going ahead. Pools continued to dominate for the rest of the half, but Bingham squandered chance after chance and Paynter was being caught on the wrong foot, or coming off second to the centre half in almost every attack, the latter was forgiven just before half time, after he forced the equaliser. At half time, with Luton's liveliest forward being substituted mid half and their stocky centre half being spared a booking for persistent foul play, only by a mass verbal onslaught, on the referee, by his colleagues, no one doubted, away fans included, that Pools would come away with all three points come the final whistle.
The second half started as the first had finished, with chances being squandered by the home side and the away team seldom threatening. And then, again, much against the run of play, Luton took the lead. The home side continued to dominate play but the static looking Luton defence continued to deny them (though their centre half was lucky not to collect at least a yellow after a body check on Bingham). Luton's third goal put pay to any ideas the home crowd had of salvaging even one point from the game and their fourth left, those home fans, still in the ground, more amused and bewildered at the score, than disappointed with the performance of their team. It would be easy to criticise Bingham for not capitalising on his opportunities, but most of these only existed due to the skill of the player himself. Moore's Corbyn like reluctance to press the substitute button, until it was too late or him missing Fenwick from the starting line up, may have had a bearing on the result, but it was a day that the ball didn't run for the home side. I don't do stats but I would think that Luton's number of shots on target will number less than their goal tally.
Even though Pools played well most of the match, to concede four goals against a team that had a defence who looked like they'd spent more time in Greggs than on the training ground makes me fear for the rest of the season. Unlike Tuesday when three goals was a let off for Pools after they were outplayed, today it seemed that all the opposition had to do was to kick the ball towards our goal to score and, at the other end, even when our forwards were in a position to slot the ball home we failed to hit the back of the net.