ANOTHER home defeat and Hartlepool United’s players had their day off cancelled yesterday; much more of this and Christmas will be cancelled next.

After losing to Sutton, Pools contrived to draw midweek against Fylde, before Bromley became the latest to visit, enjoy their day out and go home with a smile and three points.

Home form for Pools in recent seasons has been utterly wretched. They lose more than they win. Victoria Park victories are be cherished, such is the rarity of three points and a decent Saturday night pint.

Bromley were like most National League sides who come to Pools, just like Sutton, in being strong, direct and very well organised.

Pools were, well Pools. Played some neat football, looked good at times, offered some hope with a couple of goals, the second of which a fine strike by Gus Mafuta, but shipped soft goals.

They have now conceded ten in five games this season, the third on Saturday was as criminal as it was deflating.

Goalkeeper Ben Killip has proved far from convincing so far. A confident character by nature, he has suffered an uneasy opening to his Pools career.

In front of him and Fraser Kerr and Michael Raynes have yet to unite as a partnership. Kerr especially looks like he’s yet to settle. Last season it took him a while before he looked at ease and then he became the senior partner alongside David Edgar.

Tellingly, Craig Hignett spoke of the difficulties some players have encountered playing on a bigger stage at Victoria Park than previous.

“Ben is a confident lad and is alright,’’ said the manager. “He has had a real tough start, but we back our keeper. He’s come from Braintree and has good attributes. It will take time and he will get better with experience, but at the moment he’s being asked questions and it’s a bit intimidating for one or two now.

“Braintree last year, or Gateshead, here you get 3,500 and when it’s not going your way it can be in your face and you can understand that because we all want the same thing.

“No-one is more disappointed than me, but I feel I’ve a team who shouldn’t lose.’’

While Killip’s kicking can be an attribute, he has a worrying tendency to palm low shots into the centre of the goal rather than pushing them wide.

He escaped in the first-half when he parried a shot towards Recco Hackett-Fairchild. The attacker scored when he turned quickest in the area to net, but was given a simple second to win the game late on after Killip hesitated when the ball landed in the area from a crossfield pass.

His delay proved costly because when he dived in feet first the ball was knocked past him for a tap in.

Scott Loach improved as a goalkeeper when working under Ross Turnbull and now the goalkeeping coach needs to develop Killip and get him back on track amid a testing spell.

Gavan Holohan got Pools level first time around, Gus Mafuta managing it later when he curled a lovely shot in from 25 yards. The midfield enforcer looks a real asset to the side.

Niko Muir was played in minutes after the restart and went for a low finish at the near post, but hit the frame of the goal.

Bromley’s late gamesmanship was exemplary, another side who had something to hold onto and were allowed to do it.

Pools need to become National League savvy. The manager is right when he says his players don’t do the simple things well. Liam Noble can be a nark in midfield, Mafuta a presence, Michael Raynes a leader. The characters and characteristics are there and they need to start showing it.

The dilemma and challenge for Hignett is how far he adopts down the National League masterplan that others have off to a fine art.

Pools aren’t a big, lump it long side, but against Fylde – when they led 2-0 – they were solid and organised enough to keep the opposition at bay.

“I know all about my team,’’ he mused. “My thinking now is asking if we are a counter-attacking team or do we keep it with possession and break teams down, when somewhere along the line we might get broken down on the counter attack.

“I don’t think we do the simple things well. Decision-making – first goal we are comfortable in possession, they get the ball and make a run. Then we decide to push up and we don’t do that – stick with your man.

“Get in front, as an away team, it’s hard for the home team to come back, but we did it and then didn’t have enough desire in one end and didn’t do the right things at the other end.

“We were always trying to get back into the game, we did it twice and second-half we had more chances playing against the wind and I felt we would. They did the simple things well, worked hard, defended when they had to, we didn’t have the know-how and nous to break them down at one end and didn’t have the know how and nous to keep them out at the other.

“At the very least we draw that game and we didn’t and it’s a worry for me. We have a team who should be winning games we are losing.

“We need the simple things and basics done well, not the frilly and fancy things. Then the more solid we look and we could get more results that way.’’