Hartlepool v Barnet, October 20th
Hartlepool v Barnet, October 20th 2015 by Billy Zinc.
Although I boast that I do not consult previews or reviews of the matches I attend, so that I don't, subconsciously, adopt either a preconceived idea of a forthcoming match or a take a bias into my review of the game. Today I admit to consulting the Hartlepool Mail if only to check the spelling of the loanee "Okuonghae's" name. If the report in Monday's Echo had any substance, I was going to use his name more than once in tonight's article. I think we all got a pleasant surprise at the final score on Saturday, true Dagenham's recent results were abysmal , but they wouldn't have been the first team that reversed their poor form when they faced Pools. But remembering that we conceded seven goals at home following our previous away win I, at least, wasn't taking anything granted.
Again I wrote that first paragraph before the match and, even after my 50 plus years of being let down at the Vic., I was expecting great things from new centre half. In truth there was a big centre half who, after a shaky ten minutes, dominated the game, unfortunately he wasn't playing for the home team.
Pools opened brightly with Bingham slicing up the Barnet defence several times, before an also lively Oates put us ahead, after only a few minutes. I was thinking that we'd be doing a "Newcastle" and getting six, as the Barnet defence looked in disarray. After the goal though, Pools rather than doing a "Newcastle", did a "Chelsea" seemingly thinking that they'd done enough to win the match by scoring the one goal. Barnet, however, battled on and on another day, with another goalkeeper, would have gone in at half time, at least on level terms. I was still optimistic for the second half, my mate not so. After the break Barnet kept on pressing, I like the team, wasn`t really expecting them to score as early as they did. During what he predicted would be a long second half, my mate started counting the attacks from each set of forwards. Not surprisingly he counted Barnet's attacks at more than double the Pools attacks.
To be honest the match, even taking into account of Barnet's domination, could have gone either way as Bingham looked dangerous throughout the match. Pools were only denied a winner by the heroics of one of their defenders, after the Barnet keeper was left in no man's land, there was a suspicion of hand ball but from the distance I was away, I couldn't make an accurate assessment and the Town Enders didn't seem to protest too much.
At the end of the day coming away from a match, in which we largely failed to perform, with a point was acceptable, as well as seeing one of our old friends, albeit briefly, again. But Mickey Nelson apart, the night showed once more how fragile and inconstant Pools are at the moment The repeat of a poor, midweek, performance, after a Saturday fixture reinforces my opinion that the team is suffering a fitness problem. Barnet had travelled that day yet still out ran the home side and once again Pools made a mediocre away side look very good.
After my research I didn't need the correct spelling of our on loan centre half nor any other new players as they are best left as anonymous, as they were during the match.
The referee does deserve a special mention for being more than a bit inconsistent . I'd like to remind him that the ten yard rule is a figure for every free kick, not an average. After awarding Pools a rare free kick in the Barnet half his ten yards was more like five, forcing the kick taking to have to move the more back to be able to clear the wall, a minute later he measure what appeared to be fifteen yards for a Barnet kick just outside our box. I counted his next pacing for a kick at eleven steps and a trip (eleven and a half). He also showed naivety when, after awarding Barnet a free kick, their player ran straight up and kicked it against a retreating Pools player and claimed he was being impeded. As so often happens referees who lose touch with play, he booked the Pools player. Barnet then took the kick before the referee was ready (was he ready when the first incident happened? I think not) so it was retaken. Later, after Bingham was brought down by a last man, the following Oates took the ball, allowing the referee to play advantage, but when play broke down everyone was expecting some action from the official, but just as many other heavy tackles from Barnet went unpunished, that incident, although acknowledged by the referee at the time, wasn't addressed.