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Bury capitalise as Pools let their standards slip
A KISS and a greeting to see the New Year in? Not for Hartlepool United who, in the words of boss Colin Cooper, received nothing more than “a smack across the chops”.
Following two highly impressive and positive performances in the last week at Chesterfield and Morecambe, Pools’ standards slipped.
As good as they were in those two displays, they were poor this time as they lost to Bury for the second time in seven League Two games.
Pools’ last defeat was at Gigg Lane in November, on a night when the Shakers were more than content to force Cooper’s side into a long-ball game of hustle and bustle.
Yesterday, Bury had a different game plan under new boss David Flitcroft as they kept things organised and tight but played some tidy football to go with it.
The common factor in both games is that Pools didn’t turn up.
“As disappointed as I am I have to admit that it looked like we could be playing another week and not get a goal,’’ reflected Cooper.
“We try to do the right things, but sometimes you get a smack across the chops and it’s happened today.
“We are a young side and when you have a high like at Morecambe, you can’t allow a real dip – this sort of result.
“Bury have gone away with three goals and three points and I didn’t see it coming. I thought we would put them to the sword.
“After a massive high the worst you need is a levelling off, not a dip. We have had a dip and it’s disappointing.”
Pools had 20 corners to Bury’s one and enjoyed 58 per cent possession. But it wasn’t enough as they were left chasing the game after an horrendous start.
Bradley Walker maybe should have been more clinical when he met Jon Franks’ corner on two minutes. Within the six-yard area, the midfielder didn’t connect firmly and debutant defender Frederic Veseli cleared.
Three minutes later Pools were trailing. Danny Mayor, playing behind the strikers, picked up a pass and drilled a low shot at goal.
Scott Flinders seemed to have it covered, but then, on realising the strike was drifting to his right, stuck out an arm and could only push it high into the net.
On 12 minutes, Pools were well and truly up against it. A pass cut through the Pools defence and Daniel Nardiello latched on to it.
His goals in 2009, while on loan from Blackpool, helped keep Pools in League One. His finish this time made sure Pools weren’t going to close the gap between themselves and the other sides hopeful of moving up to League One come May.
As Flinders came off his line, Nardiello rolled his finish past the keeper and into the empty net.
The Shakers’ 3-4-1-2 formation was proving effective and they had Tommy Miller, the former Pools midfielder, dictating simple possession from a deep-lying midfield role.
He almost made it three on 15 minutes, a curling free-kick dipping over the defensive wall and Flinders reacted to keep it out.
At the other end, a corner was met by Jack Baldwin, but giant keeper Brian Jensen spread himself to save.
James Poole tried a shot from distance and it spun up off the face of defender Richard Hinds, heading towards the top of the net before Jensen back-pedalled to tip it over.
Losing the toss to Shakers’ skipper Miller and being forced to kick towards the Town End in the first-half didn’t suit.
Pools needed to start the second half well, but couldn’t get into their stride.
Poole flicked a header wide from a near post corner, then the attacker dragged a shot wide under pressure on the edge of the area.
But Mayor showed he wasn’t easing up and drove forward to fire a shot across goal and against the outside of the post.
Perhaps at two-down, Pools still had half a chance.
When Richard Hinds scored on 75 minutes, it was game over. A long free-kick landed for the defender to knock in without any fuss.
Pools were so fluent at Morecambe, but stuttered at home and Cooper admitted: “They shot us in the foot rather than us doing it to ourselves.
To be fair to Bury, the strike from Mayor, who looks a decent player, flew in.
“The second one compounded the start unfortunately.
We were pushing back on the counter attack, Scott cam off his line to make up for the first one and didn’t quite make it.
“Bury are a team looking to play decent football and showed elements of it, but all the pressing was towards their goal.
“They defended very well and had a goalkeeper playing well.
“Brian Jensen had a great game and he kept his goal very well, with three centrebacks, two wing backs and midfielders in front of them putting their bodies on the line to make vital blocks.’’
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