Frustration – (Photo Credit: Jon Ashworth / Side of the World)
I’ll preface this article by saying that on the whole, I’m a strong believer in that scoring goals wins you games, and that you can only deserve to win if you do so.
There’s a few times where I’ve rolled my eyes as a manager lists off chance after chance missed, injustice after injustice, if, buts and maybes.
That’s not to say I don’t think referees and their decisions can influence games – of course, they are a key variable on a match day. I just don’t believe a single event can decide a game – unless a decision comes right at the end of it, which mercifully is very rare.
When people say that a side didn’t deserve a result, they usually indicate a higher share of possession, more shots on target, etc. Call me harsh, but the only stat that truly matters is goals.
Can sides feel hard done by? Yes. Poole will feel that way after losing to Hayes – and whilst the result was not reflective of a game as whole, it cannot be said it was not deserved by Hayes.
Poole were prolifigate in front of goal, whilst Hayes were simply clinical. My above maxim must be applied – Hayes deserved the win. Poole fans may point to the two red cards kept in the back pocket, or the very soft penalty. Turning points? Yes. Insurmountable, decisive moments? Not for me.
I felt that the biggest nail in Poole’s coffin was the second goal. Dolphins again started brightly in the second half, but poor defending allowed Hayes to score from their first foray forward.
In truth? It was just one of those days. Sometimes games have an air about them – Saturday had a strong sense of frustration – but the best sides can overcome mitigating circumstances.
I’m not saying chalk the game off completely and act as if there are no lessons to be learnt – but that over analysing this game will not yield any further insights.
For me there are positives – the overall performance, Poole’s commitment and determination – those shouldn’t be questioned. They played with purpose and confidence for large spells of the match, and if they played any other side in the league, they probably would have fared much better.
Hayes are a well-drilled, resolute side with pace and skill to hit teams on the counter. The events of Saturday played right into their hands. Not many sides will beat Hayes, and very rarely will they drop points from a winning position.
Poole can brush themselves off and go again – but even at this stage of the season they cannot afford to let opportunities slip if they are to truly challenge for the title.
Title aspirations have not been outright claimed by Poole, but it is an ambitious squad at the Black Gold. The playoff picture is bigger and tougher than ever – whilst it feels like Farnborough and Hayes are the only real title contenders at this stage.
Teams below the top two will lose plenty more games by the end of the season – from what we have seen so far, Poole seem poised to be in that discussion come the business end of the campaign.
Staff and players alike will not rule out a title push at this stage, but even the most positive of minds at Poole will know that potentially being 16 points behind the league leaders with a quarter of the season passed already does not bode well for finishing in top spot.
Dolphins will have to find a way to turn afternoons that aren’t going their way into games that yield points if they harbour any title dreams.