DAVE Challinor called it right: “This was a proper non league game of football on a horrible pitch, in horrible conditions.’’

Hartlepool United went to Barnet on the back of a four-game unbeaten run, with a spring in their step after a solid win over Stockport the week before.

But in windy conditions more akin to Blackhall than Barnet and on a pitch resembling Grayfields, Pools never got going.

The Bees didn’t really impress either in a game instantly forgettable, although they made the most of two goals gifted their way.

There’s still 13 games left for Pools this season, but they now sit six points shy of the top seven. They had reduced the chase to three points seven days previous.

So lies their problem. Will they always be a couple of wins shy of making the end of season shake-up? It looks like that will be the case. Optimism is often punctured by Pools.

They didn’t help their own cause at Barnet, Gavan Holohan sent off for two bookable offences. The first yellow was pretty needless, cautioned for making a tackle he didn’t really need to make and wasn’t going to win.

The second, while already under caution, was pointless. Referee Daniel Middleton decreed that fouls merited a yellow card, so two minutes into the second half there was little point in Holohan, a key component in Challinor’s Pools, making the challenge.

He apologised to his team-mates afterwards and accepted the error of his ways.

“Good teams find a way to play well,’’ mused the manager. “The pitch doesn’t help either side and if we are going to be successful then we have to see this out.

“It’s frustrating to play for so long with ten men and Gav is frustrated with himself in the dressing room.

“It’s an honest mistake if you like, but I could sense it happening because every foul seemed to be a yellow card.

“It affected the game and you can’t win games over a season with ten men. We conceded from a set-piece, got back into it and then a second-phase ball lets us down.

“We have to use this as motivation and a learning tool.’’

Pools are at home to Aldershot next on Saturday. It’s another game they will have to win to gain some sort of momentum.

This game lacked drive from the off. It never got going in the opening 45 minutes.

Mark Shelton drove a ball across the six-yard box from the right. They scored from that scenario a week before. This time no-one was on the end of it, with Aidan Keena subdued. Challinor threw his hands up in the air in frustration as the chance went begging.

He knew the significance of it.

“At the end of the first half we had that ball across,’’ he said. “Games like this are tough mentality. Everyone on that pitch can look stupid. The ball bobbles up off the knee, clearances can go anywhere, balls can go over your head.

“For all those things to consider then if we go ahead in the first-half in those conditions then the game can go a different way. If we go one-up then does Gav make that challenge?

“We conceded so quickly after scoring and we gave poor goals away. Set-pieces come down to discipline and concentration and we work on that

“You will get unlucky, balls will drop for the opposition, but the goals were poor ones. We didn’t expect goals to come that were pleasing on the eye because of the conditions and that proved the case.’’

Pools only effort on target came from a Ryan Donaldson cross expertly headed past his own goalkeeper by home defender Peter Sweeney.

It was the only time Scott Loach was troubled. At the other end, Mitch Beeney remained unconvincing. His positioning and general awareness weren’t great.

Beeeney was beaten for the winning goal as a long punt from halfway wasn’t dealt with by Macauley Southam-Hailes, Beeney was off his line and Simeon Akinola netted.

Coming so soon after drawing level, it was unlikely Pools would have enough in them to claw their way back again.

Challinor concluded: “It doesn’t hurt any more losing against a team chasing the top seven like us, but it’s a team we can have a direct influence on and it’s a missed opportunity. We keep plugging away.

“The longer it goes without being in the top seven you start to run out of games. We look back on this and wonder if it makes a significant difference. We work hard next week, we have to make a change with the suspension so it’s a chance for someone else to take.

“The month is important, but no more important than March. The next game is the most important one, We are running out of games and we need a run and we keep going until it’s mathematically impossible to get where we want.

“This is about longer-term ambitions, bedding principles down. We’ve not written off this season, but we want to keep producing.’’