Hartlepool v Derby, 10th January 2016
Hartlepool v Derby, 10th January 2016 by Billy Zinc.
Wow! A team performance, commitment, skill and very nearly a trip into the fourth round.
I`d predicted a defeat by three goals, but my mate said five. How wrong could we be! I was expecting a Bournemouth like football lesson for our again much changed side, but nothing was further from the truth. I expect Derby were also fielding a side unlike the one that fielded against the mighty Boro last week. But even so, we faced Derby side tipped to be playing premiership football next season.
After the first five minutes of home side domination, when play was limited to the Derby half and we had more shots at target than we`d had for many a match, I said "I wasn`t expecting this". We played as a team, looking for and finding each other with well directed passes. We were committed in tackles, but, with one exception, we were tackling fairer than the beleaguered visitors. Pools supremacy lasted 40 minutes, until Derby started to find their way into the Pools half. In this five minutes of pressure Carson pulled off a brilliant save almost akin to the one against Salford. The pitch was in surprisingly good condition and wasn`t cutting up despite the heavy rain that we`ve been experiencing, the ground staff deserve a lot of credit for this, and if they`re passing, are welcome to drop in on me and my flooded lawn anytime they`re passing.
The second half saw Derby start brighter but Pools were still being competitive enough to please their supporters and it wasn`t too surprising (actually after the season we`ve had it was), to see Woods cutting up the Derby defence finding Grey, who then hammered the ball home, to rapturous applause from the home fans. We`ve waited all season for something like this. It was early days, but most, on the run of play, thought we could hold out and at least be in the hat on Monday. The home fans were a might disappointed though, five minutes later, when Derby`s substitute, Butterfield, who hadn`t been on the pitch for more than a minute or so, evened things up. I was worried that our lads would get their heads down after this, but no, we kept on pressing. Two tackles on our players in the penalty box, which prevented them going for crosses, and which would have attracted free kicks if they`d occurred anywhere else on the pitch, were waved away by the referee. The referee seemed all to aware of the difference in league status of the sides being reluctant punish any of the painful tackles meted out by the visitors. The linesman (they`re still linesmen to me until they man up with their decisions) on the Mill House side also seemed to be myopic when it can to giving Pools anything. Derby`s late winner was again disappointing for the home fans, but not heart breaking and our lads kept on pressing Derby, until the last minute of what was easily the best performance we`d seem from a Pools side at the Vic. this season, which itself was against the best side we`d faced. The home side left the pitch to a standing ovation. A few more displays like this one will see us looking more to the top of the league, than to the trap door at the bottom.
As a footnote I would like to thank Denis Locorriere (singer for Dr. Hook) for keeping my wife amused during my half hour wait at the booking office last Monday, when I was in a queue of fifteen. I put the Dr. Hook CD on as I left the car, it had played fully and was back to track one when I returned. To be fair to the staff my mate went for his ticket on Wednesday and tells me he was straight in and out.