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Pools in cruise control, but are hit by a breakdown
NEALE Cooper had a problem last week with his club sponsored car. As he pressed the pedal, there was no real acceleration.
In the last 20 minutes on Saturday, how he wished his Hartlepool United lacked forward drive.
Pools were in control and in command against Carlisle, James Poole's crisp 40th minute finish. But they were unable to stop themselves pressing for a second goal and were caught out.
If the handbrake was put on his team, then perhaps they would have saw the game out.
Instead, it all went wrong for Pools and turned around in an equally frantic and calamitous 12-minute spell.
Steve Howard, much improved on his previous display, clipped a shot against the bar. A second goal would have finished off the Cumbrians, but with the deficit at one, they were in with a sniff.
Howard was bundled over on the edge of the visiting area, but referee James Adcock was - not for the first time - having any of it.
Evan Horwood did foul Danny Cadarmarteri at the other end and, from the free-kick, the striker knocked in the second ball after Scott Flinders saved.
Two minutes on and, with Pools bombing forward for a winner, they were caught on the counter attack.
With Peter Hartley laid on the turf suffering from cramp and playing the visitors onside, they attacked with options.
Matty Robson got the wrong side of Neil Austin and was clipped. The full-back was red carded, while Hartley was forced off.
On came Jack Baldwin at right back and Howard dropped to centre-half.
Pools didn't look comfortable. Substitute Mark Symington crossed from the right and, as Baldwin drifted into the middle, Robson stole into space behind and had time to settle and crack a low shot across Flinders.
From a game Pools should have saw out relatively comfortably, they ended with nothing to show for what was - 70 minutes at least - as good as they have played this season.
Throwing it away wasn't down to inexperience, Pools still had key players on the pitch, but it was down to a lack of sense in shutting up shop.
"We have to manage the game better and see it out,'' reflected left-back Horwood. "We've played a lot of games between us now and maybe we were getting a bit excited going for a second goal, we had the ball so much.
"Yes, nick a second if we have to, but we are good at keeping clean sheets and we can do it.
"It was a dominant game for us, even at 1-1 we should see it out after we were down to ten men and Peter went off.
"There was still only ten minutes to go - if we had to spend ten minutes in training kicking the ball out and doing the basics I'm sure we could.''
And those sentiments were echoed by Cooper.
"They've got to manage their positioning better,'' he reflected.
"Paul (Murray) has gone wider to do a bit of link up play and there's been no one in the middle of the park when it's broken down.
"We've had no one sat in the centre, it's criminal really, we should have been organised
"The ball goes up field, they win a free-kick and score
"They get a lift from that, Aussie getting sent off and Peter going off - they are back in it when they never should have been in it.''
Carlisle did squander a chance to make it 1-1, but striker Jake Jervis produced the sort of miss blooper DVDs are made of.
Murray's pass back towards his own goal from some distance was latched onto the loanee. He rounded Flinders but, lacking any sort of composure, found the stand instead of the net.
Pools took the lead when Howard and Peter Murphy jumped for the ball and it fell for Poole to latch onto, hold off Mike Edwards and confidently score.
It was more like the Poole Cooper hasn't seen too often and, for an hour, his workrate and efforts to link up with Howard were admirable.
Cooper put Craig Lynch, newly signed on loan from Sunderland, on for his debut and the winger showed some neat touches and was busy.
Pools did start well, with the drive and verve Cooper wants to see from his players. Poole set the tone early on with a willingness to chase and harass, while Howard, his swollen knee settled down, was more like the player Pools knew they were signing in the summer.
It's just a shame he doesn't get protection from the referees. A bit like Peter Crouch in an England shirt, he is always the sinner in the eyes of officials.
1-0: Poole (40mins, latched onto knock on to finish with confidence)
1-1: Cadamarteri (75, tapped in from close range after Robson's free kick was kept out by Flinders)
1-2: Robson (85, had time and space at the far post to pick his spot and shoot into the far side)
Bookings: Murphy (3, foul); Collins (14, foul); Austin (foul, 71), Monkhouse (79, dissent), Berrett (90, foul)
Sending-off: Austin (77, second bookable offence, foul)
Referee: James Adcock (Nottingham): Steady away until suffered a late meltdown, a bit like the home team 4
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2):
6 Flinders: Like last time out, was never shy in coming off his line for crosses and was well protected in the main by his defenders;
5 Austin: Robson didn't cause him too many problems overall. First booking perhaps soft, second couldn't complain
7 Collins: Defended his area well and with authority, stood up against lively Cadamarteri
6 Hartley: Generally solid, but Cooper was concerned he went down with cramp - and as a result he played the visitors
onside as Austin was sent-off
5 Horwood: Not troubled one bit by McGovern, but will have been disappointed with two free-kicks he had a pop at goal from;
6 Franks: Busy and saw plenty of the ball, especially when drifting inside, but Cooper wants more from the winger
5 Murray: Twice gave away possession with slack passes that nearly proved costly, which is alien to him
6 Sweeney: Lots of foraging off the ball and popped up everywhere. Went close to making it 2-0 with a second-
6 Monkhouse: At times influential, at times languid. Denied a goal by a decent save from Gillespie;
7 Howard: A constant problem, but again got little to no protection from the officials. On top of his game after a flat show last time
6 Poole: From the first minute when he chased into the corner, his performance was full of energy and running, but
another whose fitness was questioned by Cooper
Lynch (for Franks 66): Loan signing from Sunderland showed willingness and some neat footwork in a promising start 6
Baldwin (for Hartley 78)
James (for Poole 88)
(not used): Humphreys, Walton, Holden, McHugh.
Carlisle (4-4-2): Gillespie 6; Simek 5, MURPHY 8 (Livesey 90), Edwards 7, Chantler 5; McGovern 5 (Symington 69, 6), Thirlwell 5, Berrett 7, Robson 6; Jervis 3 (Beck 58, 6), Cadamarteri 8. Subs (not used): Collin (gk), Livesey, Madden, Potts, O'Halloran.
MAN OF THE MATCH
PETER Murphy - up against strong Howard and nippy Poole, but was fully switched on throughout and brought praise from his boss