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Former Pools boss Turner escapes relegation again
Hartlepool United 1 Chesterfield 2
CHRIS Turner was never relegated with Hartlepool United, although he did have a few scares.
And Chesterfield's chief executive looked on as his new side escaped relegation at Victoria Park on Saturday.
In 1999, Turner managed Pools to safety from the threat of dropping out of the Football League.
In 2009, Pools stayed up on goal difference, despite a final day humiliation at Bristol Rovers.
To complete Turner's hat-trick, 12 months later Pools drew 0-0 at Brentford on the final day of the season to remain in League One on goal difference.
With Pools ahead on Saturday, and comfortable for their lead, the Spireites looked down and out. Turner was looking at a League Two budget for next season.
But any team, no matter how poor, disorganised or inept, can win at Victoria Park and so Chesterfield proved.
Brittle isn't the word for Pools at home this season.
If they lose to Orient at home in a couple of weeks 12 reverses in a season will equalthe club record.
Only in 1992 have they scored fewer than this campaign. Five home games without a goal is a run beaten only once. Pools need to beat Orient by 14 goals to match their lowest home scoring tally in a campaign.
A run of nine successive home losses, five losing games without scoring, eight winless games and 12 non-scoring games in front of their own fans also set new benchmarks.
Twelve months ago, everyone left happy at the end of the Victoria Park campaign after goalkeeper Scott Flinders headed in an injury time goal against Bournemouth. Lose to Orient and supporters will be lining up like lemmings to jump off the Heugh Breakwater.
When Gary Liddle scored on 37 minutes it spelt relief for all. Pools were only three minutes shy of going five consecutive games without scoring as their previous goal was a James Poole header 40 minutes into the 1-1 draw with MK Dons on March 3.
Paul Murray's raking pass out wide for Neil Austin - Pools' most positive ball forward at Victoria Park in weeks - saw the full-back feed Ryan Noble and he put the ball over for Liddle to knock in from close range.
It was only his third of the season, his last coming at Carlisle on September 10.
That should have been the catalyst for more. The Spireites appeared beaten and relegated.
Pools created more chances this time than they had of late, but didn't take them.
Goalkeeper Tommy Lee had already saved smartly from shots from distance by Andy Monkhouse and Ryan Noble before Noble sent a close range shot at the keeper and then pushed wide from a Luke James knock-down.
Substitute Danny Whitaker had been on the pitch three minutes when he scored with his first touch.
After Pools gave up possession too easily without much of a fight in the opposition half, a turn and pass from Jordan Bowery allowed Whitaker to stroke the ball in.
Cooper's side went into their collective shells and the visitors were gifted the game. The ball was pinged crossfield to Mark Boden, who was allowed to cross too easily and Bowery read the delivery to nip between Peter Hartley and Flinders to head in.
With 20 minutes to go Pools had the chance to get back into it. They could have had 20 hours and it wouldn't have made a difference.
The last time Cooper was up against Chesterfield, he was purring and running out of superlatives to describe his 2005 play-off chasing team.
This time he was repeating words he has said of late. It was hardly positive.
"It's boring me saying the same thing all the time - we created chances and although we scored a goal it's not enough,'' he said. "We should have killed the game. We had three chances at the start of the second-half.
"It goes back to the mentality of the opposition thinking that we wouldn't score another goal. They made changes and it paid off for them.
"We gave them the chance to come back into the game and they did it.
"When you go behind you see a different side to the players, those who wanted the ball earlier didn't want it, and that's about character.
"You can talk about shape and formation but I thought it would help Ryan having someone alongside him. It worked all right.''
Repeating his familiar mantra of late, he added: "We don't have out-and-out wingers and I like to play that way and create.
"Sloppy passing isn't part of our game, but it was there today.
"It's not worth blowing up in the changing room, they know what should have happened.
"We have realised week in, week out, it's up to the front boys to put some onus on themselves and score goals. Two goals came from balls in the box, discipline had to be better, you cannot go charging up the park all the time.
"It's a long week now until Tranmere.
"The team needs four or five players to freshen up things, it's a bit stale at times.''
1-0: Liddle (37, close-range knock in after a move down the right side led to Noble putting the ball over)
1-1: Whitaker (59, crisp angled finish after Pools' defence was cut open on the flank and the ball passed across the penalty area)
1-2: Bowery (70, close range header in front of goal to meet a left-wing cross from Boden)
Referee: Mark Haywood (Leeds): Wasn't a physical game, but didn't seem to fancy giving free-kicks as he allowed most things to carry on 5
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2):
6 Flinders: Handling and kicking assured throughout, if exposed for the second goal;
5 Austin: Did get forward, first-half especially, but can be more dominant defensively than he was on this occasion
5 Hartley: One of many who made the odd slack pass and beaten too quickly when the visitors scored their first and
not close enough to Bowery for
6 Collins: Largely untroubled by the visiting strikers. Disappointment was obvious in the second half as the game
was thrown away
5 Horwood: His lack of defensive discipline was raised by Cooper afterwards. First half was
positive and confident;
5 Liddle: Moved to the right wing and that's an alien role to the central midfielder - and it showed at times when he struggled with his position
6 Murray: With his central midfield partner pushing forward, his role was key in holding things together. Did see
plenty of the ball and his weighted pass made Pools' goal
5 Sweeney: Spent plenty of time in the opposition area, without getting on the end of things in his usual trademark style
4 Monkhouse: For someone who has 'left winger' written on his CV he's not playing like one.
Can offer so much more to the
team and as an individual;
4 Noble: Hasn't had many scoring chances in his appearances so far, but did this time and didn't take them
6 JAMES: Once again the teenager was the brightest attacking spark, even if he is some way short of fitness yet
Boyd (for Murray 73)
Rutherford (for Liddle 90)
(not used): Rafferty (gk), Humphreys, Baldwin.
CHESTERFIELD (4-4-1-1): Lee 7; Talbot 6, Thompson 5, Ford 5, Ridehalgh 5; Westcarr 4 (Boden 52, 5), Randall 5, Moussa 6, Mendy 4; Juan 4 (WHITAKER 56, 7); Bowery 6. Subs (not used): Allott, Smith, Ajose.
MAN OF THE MATCH
DANNY Whitaker - Spireites' substitute changed the game with his first touch
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