Hartlepool had a good game, with a very good goalkeeper in Arran Lee-Barrett who did some excellent saves in front of Cole's feet, and a good running right midfielder in (I think) Andy Monkhouse. We just had to fight them down.
I do not intend to rate our players here with figures, mainly because it was a very different game, partly as I was not too impressed what I saw. And by the way: We won 0-2, with two late goal's in the first half: a Behrami shot and Noble from the spotkick.
Hartlepool had five men in their midfield and we really had to fight there. I think Scott Parker did it tremendously well in the first half. The other three musceteers did it OK in the middle as well, but had hard times to take the initiative and really decide how to do it. They all ran well and made their player once in a while, but let's confess: we were a bit weak there sometimes.
Di Michele tried but did not have a good game at all.
Some may think otherwise as he did not score, but I think Cole was really OK, took some kind of responsibilty. But was not able to put the ball in the net. Three times more or less free with the keeper he had one ball in the woodwork and twice denied by Lee-Barnett who came out in the right tenth of the second.
So the torrent is broken, but even Cole could smile a bit when his third attempt hit the post.
He changed late on with Sears who had a thankless task to just run and chase the ball. But still a bit weak, I can't see - sorry - that's he is close to our first eleven yet.
That goes for Tomkins as well, our CB instead of Upson today. The young man has more to learn and made some sloppy things as a CB usually can't afford. He'll need a year or two from now on. I think.
One man who did not take his chance either was Faubert on the RB. After a start with a wonderful cross he did not anything really good at all. A pity.
Our friend Ilunga was one again very cool goin forward, but had some hard times to find where to be in the back. Had sometimes to play more as a CB and once missed his guy in a duel, where Green saved with a reflex.
Collins was on the other hand really great as the heavy strong man in the back, but as usual a bit careless when goin forward.
Green did the few things he had to do well, except an early miss, where Parker saved our keeper's blushes.
Mullins and Boa Morte came on as well, the first was invisible, the second had maybe one pass right. Well, he was not the worst man on the field: That was the referee Mason (with a little bit help from his linesmen). It was obvoius that Nelson handled the ball outside of the box, but we had a penalty. On the other hand, we picked up three yellow cards and actually not one of em should have been. Cole was pushed by their defence towards their goalkeeper and he could do nothing but fall over him, Ilunga tried to protect Cole in the same moment, when he was down and if Parkers tackle was a booking Mason could have filled the whole town of Hartlepool with yellow cards.
Even if the team was well prepared here, and we all now that's not an easy task to meet these kind of teams, I wondered if our players did not go around thinking "So who's up next?"
That's what we all do... from now!