Date: 14th March 2015 at 10:09pm
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In Saturday`s match programme, Morecambe Captain Mark Hughes bemoaned the fact that against lesser teams – `no disrespect to them` – Morecambe have struggled this season. But at better-placed sides, the Shrimps have generally done well. So imagine the frustration that his Manager – and Morecambe fans generally – felt on match day when a team with play-off pretensions and which performed brilliantly to win at Luton last Saturday lost the third of the four games they have played so far against League Two`s indisputably least of all the lesser teams – the fact that Pools were a massive seven points adrift of the rest of the pack before play isn`t an accident.

The Shrimps were hopeless. They lacked any fluency, cohesion or cutting edge until the dying moments of the game. Too many among their ranks – with the honourable exception of Laurence Wilson and perhaps Andy Parrish despite what was to happen to him after 34 minutes – looked like they had left their boots and particularly their mindsets behind at Kenilworth Road last week. Hughes was poor both in terms of competing or obviously trying to buck-up his team as their supposed leader on the field; midfielders Andy Fleming and Andrew Wright in particular were largely ineffectual throughout and even the reliable Old Stagers such as Kevin Ellison and Jack Redshaw were way off the pace today.

On the other side of the coin, United didn`t look as bad as some of the other teams struggling much higher in League Two have done this season. In number seven Jonathan Franks, they always had a threat on the break. When Aaron Tshibola decided to stop feigning injury and give his sometimes nasty physical vendetta against Fleming (who – to be fair – was equally culpable) a rest, he looked like he could actually play a bit. David Mirfin at centre half made the game look easy. But sadly, from Morecambe`s point of view, for him at least, it was?

Pools` carthorse of a centre forward – the wholly inappropriately named Ryan Bird – found himself lumbering after a ball over the top of the Morecambe defence after 34 minutes which had caught Hughes and Co completely flat-footed. Parrish was the fastest to respond and took the ball away from Bird with a firm tackle from behind. Unfortunately, the intervention also pushed the ball past the advancing Andreas Arestidou as well and it rolled agonisingly slowly beyond him into the net to chalk-up an Own Goal for the Shrimps` number 22. (Bird could have made it safe for the visitors when he found himself with a clear shot on goal after 77 minutes but his slowness to react gave the Morecambe defence time to regroup and hack his eventual shot away from the line with Arestidou well beaten.)

The own-goal should have been a wake-up call for the lacklustre Shrimps. But it wasn`t. A poor game only started to come alive as a contest once Wright and Paul Mullin were substituted after 65 minutes. The evergreen Stewart Drummond started to prompt his forwards in a way that simply hadn`t happened before that and fellow substitute Jack Sampson had at least a bit more impact than Mullin had earlier. Drummond netted with a tremendous shot after a corner with almost seventy minutes played but referee Mark Haywood disallowed the goal, presumably for a foul in the penalty area. Six minutes later, Ellison saw a goal-bound shot deflected onto the angle of massive Pools` Custodian Scott Flinder`s right-hand post and bar. After 77 minutes, Padraig Amond wasted a golden opportunity to equalise or pass to someone better placed when he shied a shot wildly past Flinders` left hand post when hitting the target seemed easier. And that was it.

For ages before the final whistle, Pools supporters noisily encouraged their team over the line. Hats off to them – three points on the road is something many of them will not have experienced before in recent times. The win could prove far too little, far too late for Ronnie Moore and his side – but who knows? Morecambe`s defeat sees them drop to fourteenth in the table. Worryingly for Jim Bentley, this defeat is the third in a row for his team at the Globe this year. If they continue to turn-in performances like this one, there will be plenty more. Although still bottom, the gap between Hartlepool and second bottom Tranmere narrowed to just four points tonight.