Hartlepool v Crawley, October 24th
Hartlepool v Crawley, October 24th 2015 by Billy Zinc.
As a boy I recall the names of the teams in the lower divisions didn't change much, odd times they go into higher divisions but rarely, thanks to the "re-election process", which saved Pools on a regular basis, did we lose or gain any to, and take any from non - league football. I do remember though, one team of usurpers, Peterborough, coming into the league and, though I'd fully expect us to beat them at our place at least, beating us. Going back to the re-election system for the bottom four, we did gradually lose teams from the north such as, Gateshead, Southport, Barrow and Workington, who always seemed to be replaced by southern based sides (or is the northern chip on the shoulder raising its head?). Once gone they didn't usually come back, an exception being the legendry Accrington Stanley. These days with the bottom two automatically being relegated, we see strange names like Wimbledon, Dagenham & Redbridge, Barnet, Yeovil, Stevenage and Burton Albion sneaking into the league, but I believe it probably makes the league healthier and more dynamic. Remembering that youthful disappointment against Peterborough, I always approach games against new boys (any team attaining league status within the last 30 years), with caution. This week Barnet almost took the spoils and Saturday we "hosted" Crawley Town.
Again the first paragraph reflected my pre-match thoughts and although now I will say "we woz robbed" in truth as my mate put it, we were "unlucky" but we were also "bad". The lack lustre first half had been looking forward to the schools half time penalty competition. Bingham was lively and continued to be so in the second half, but was often a lone forward figure. In midfield only Oates was noteworthy. The defence were never troubled, we usually make the away team look good when we perform as we did in first half today, but today the opposition were no better than us.
A half time appeal for a qualified referee seemed to of been answered by one of the Crawley fans, (although it looked like the same man who refereed the first half) as, in the second half, a penalty was given when none was called for, and, at the other end, a blatant hand ball was ignored.
With Woods coming on at half time the team had more bite and Pools looked the side more likely, if either side deserved it, to take all three points. This was until, after a goal mouth scramble and a good save by Carson, Harrison blocked a shot in front of goal. Although Crawley are one of those teams who always seem to have someone nagging at the ref and who send men to get in his face to argue his every decision, they didn't seem to appeal for anything when this penalty and was given. The inevitable sending off followed. I haven't yet seen a TV replay, but Harrison did not appear to put his hand out to contact the ball. Pools can also feel aggrieved about the second goal, after Crawley's number 18, shortly after he'd been booked for impeding the goal keeper in a clownish, time wasting way, fouled Okuonghae before getting around the centre half, to put his team mate through, which lead to their second goal. Paynter gave us hope with a superb header from a corner, late in the game and in injury time, that man Okuonghae was unlucky not to put Pools on level terms.
I have commented on fitness in other reviews, but today the team seemed to have had a rest before the match, as they looked as if they'd just woken up from a long sleep and didn't get going until the second half.
Not getting a result against a team as mediocre as Crawley, who needed "assists" from a compliant referee isn't just "unlucky", as my mate, who would bleed blue and white if you cut him, commented it's also "bad". One point from six at home, I don't think I need to remind anyone, is relegation form. The division seems to be poor this year, but our poor position with in it isn't false, nor can it be blamed on referees and even more worryingly, it's not because we've played top teams.