Pools Beaten Again At Burton
Pools picked up their sixth successive defeat as Burton Albion ran out 3-0 winners at The Pirelli Stadium this afternoon.
It was a below-par display from Colin Cooper's side, who lost Luke James early in the game to injury but failed to find any real spark this afternoon.
Pools started the game brightly and there was plenty of early running in the bright sunshine here at the Pirelli Stadium.
And it was Like James who was again at the heart of things for Pools, showing his usual levels of enthusiasm as he refused to let the home defence rest.
Burton showed their intentions as well at the other end in a game that had very different permutations for both clubs; Jimmy Phillips sent a shot at goal which just went wide before Billy Kee saw a weak effort held by Andy Rafferty.
Pools were dealt a massive blow on 14 minutes when Luke James was forced off through injury; the young striker had crashed into the advertising when chasing down the ball only to injure himself in the process. The young striker tried to return to the action but was unable to continue and hobbled off the field in clear pain.
Marlon Harewood replaced James as the lone striker and the emphasis of Pools’ attack changed.
Burton went close shortly after the change when a cross from Gary Alexander on the right found Robbie Weir rising inside the box and his towering header went just narrowly wide, hitting the top of the net on its way out.
Burton were enjoying the majority of their space down the right, pushing forward in numbers and testing Pools with a succession of crosses.
Despite the building pressure from the hosts, it was Pools who had the best chance to open the scoring; Andy Monkhouse fed Marlon Harewood with a lovely through ball which set the striker in with only the keeper to beat. But after taking his time to pick his spot, Harewood found only the legs of Dean Lyness with his final effort.
Rafferty was called into action to deny Phillips who cut in from the left to fire in on goal and the big keeper did well to collect at the second attempt.
Burton did find a way through on 27 minutes when another ball in from the right, this time a long ball from Ian Sharpswas picked up by Billy Kee who sent a neat volley past Rafferty and into the back of the net from six yards.
The goal hit Pools and dented enthusiasm as they struggled to create any real opening for a spell – using the long ball up to Harewood as a quick route forward but with little success.
Scott Harrison, making just his second start for Pools, got a couple of crucial headers in to send the ball back upfield before clearing up nicely as Kee looked to pounce again inside the box.
Pools had another brief glimpse before the break when Monkhouse and Holden combined down the left and James Poole arrived to send the final shot at goal but his effort was deflected out for a corner.
Pools really needed the half-time whistle now to re-group and find the momentum to get themselves back into the game.
And after the break, Pools did have an early chance to equalise when Sam Collins met a corner to send his header at goal but the skipper saw his effort go just wide and he was soon back to working hard in his more familiar role at the back.
Simon Walton got in a great block to deny the hosts as they continued to push forward in this second half and put the pressure on Pools.
And on 57 minutes it paid off for them as Weir played the ball to Jimmy Phillips on the edge of the area and he was allowed the space to curl a lovely effort past Rafferty to make it 2-0.
A deflected effort from Harewood saw Pools awarded a corner only for Andy Monkhouse to be denied by a great take from home keeper Dean Lyness.
Billy Kee sent a shot wide of target before returning for another go which Rafferty got down well to hold as Burton looked to add to their tally.
By this point, the game had lost any real edge and, while Burton remained the side more likely to score again, there was little goalmouth action at either end.
Burton did get their third on 83 minutes as Lee Bell smashed a low freekick from 25 yards through the area, where it flew completely unchallenged past Rafferty and into the back of the net.
Pools now face a huge Easter Monday clash at The Vic against Morecambe in a vital fixture for Colin Cooper's men who will need to bring this recent run of poor results to an end.
Full Time: Burton Albion 3 Pools 0
Pools: Rafferty, Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Holden, Franks (Barmby 67), Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Poole (Compton 72), James (Harewood 14)
Subs Not Used: Flinders, Richards, Jones, Oliver
Burton Albion: Lyness, Edwards, Sharps, Bell,Weir (Palmer 82), Alexander, MacDonald, McFadzean, Phillips, Candsell-Sherriff (Holness 81), McKee (Symes 86)
Subs Not Used: Hall, Hemmings, Gray, Knowles