By Charlie Summerbell
December 9 2012
Stranded at the foot of League One, five home defeats on the trot, without a win in a record-equalling 20 games - to say that Hartlepool United are in trouble is the understatement of the season, and signs of them getting out are few and far between.
New boss John Hughes could be accused of stating the blindingly obvious when he says:
"I think one or two players have been suffering from a bit of a lack of confidence.”
That was certainly the case in the latest Victoria Park setback, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Stevenage.
The problem is that teams don’t have to be good to win at Pools now – they only have to turn up, a kick-off on time and wait for the home team to self-destruct.
Pools started well in their first game for a fortnight, but the chances went begging and Stevenage scored in their first real attack, Marcus Haber tapping in after his header came back off the post.
A penalty on the hour by Lewis Akins made the game safe for Stevenage after Jordan Richards handled and though Pools never gave in, sub Luke James and Steve Howard both hitting the frame, the prospects of them levelling were always remote.
Hughes, as you’d expect, was as positive as he could be after the game. He told the club website: “The effort, commitment and spirit they showed, I have to applaud them for and I’ve seen that on the training field in the past week.
“Some of the football we played in the first half was very good, but obviously the disappointments are the result and the goals we conceded.
“We didn’t really play the same football in the second half, but we could still have scored a few goals. We can build on that first half.”
The realist ion Hughes must be telling him that the cause is lost – Pools need more than just a miracle now.
It’s a difficult to understand how Pools got to be so bad so quickly – they were distinctly average last season. But the chances of them becoming good enough to escape the drop as quickly look dim.