Final Score: Crawley Town 2 Hartlepool United 2

AMID a great deal of uncertainty and hilarity, Hartlepool United ended the most unflattering of seasons.

Pools bowed out of League One on the back of a fourgame unbeaten run. That those final results came directly on the back of an eight-game goalless streak, which preceded a seven-game unbeaten run, says everything about the inconsistency of the players.

“I believe I can fly” sang the near 200 away fans dressed as penguins. This team can fly, but it can also crash land soon after take-off.

While John Hughes was creased up with laughter after the game at the penguins’ antics, the serious side of his job starts today.

Over the next 48 hours, the players who are out of contract will discover if they are to be offered new terms.

All playing contracts at the club will take a 20 per cent hit following relegation. Now it remains to be seen who the club wants to stay and who would like to move on.

There’s around a dozen up for debate. Hughes has made his recommendations and decisions will be made. The quicker the better for all concerned.

Hughes needs to know who he will be working with next season, and which areas of his squad he will have to target for strengthening.

It’s long been club policy not to enter into discussions over new or extended deals until the last ball has been kicked. But, with the season being such an overall disaster, those debates needed to happen by now.

It’s time for a big shake-up at Victoria Park. Hughes wants to do it and he’s proved his credentials in the second half of the season.

Before the game at Sheffield United on December 29, Pools had nine points. They’ve ended on 41.

No cause for celebration, granted, but 31 points from 23 games is, over the course of a season, enough to stay up.

That it’s the same players who failed so miserably in the first 23 games shows how utterly wasted the opening half was.

Pools finished ten points shy of safety and what they did – or didn’t – do before the turn of the year put them down.

“Now I’m looking at next season, character, culture of the club, a winning mindset – and I saw that out there,’’ concluded Hughes.

“It’s all on the back of the fact that a lot of players don’t know where they are for next season, where we are going as a club, and to put a solid performance on like that is credit to them all.

“The supporters were brilliant and it’s great to score two goals in front of them all.

It’s a fans’ day and our supporters will go global.

The Northern Echo: Hartlepool
Hartlepool went behind on Saturday but they fought back to lead 2-1. However, an 89th Crawley goal saw Pools end a dismal season with a draw

Someone showed me photos of them coming through London and they have been fantastic!

“It’s been smurfs and oompah loompahs in recent years and that’s what football is all about.

“Football clubs are nothing without their supporters and it was great to score in front of them.’’ Hughes, who watched from the stand after picking up a two-game touchline ban last week, added: “I cannot tell you who is leaving, we don’t know yet.

“A lot have stepped up to the demands of being a winning team, creating a culture and installing a good work ethic.

“You can see the leadership qualities and there’s a lot of hard work to be done over the summer. Hopefully we will see them back next year.

“We’ve taken a lot of points in the second half of the season and, after what went on in the early part of the season, we have improved. All credit to the boys – if we had done this all season we might have been mid-table.’’ Amid a tepid first half, in which the only hint of any entertainment was from the penguins, three goals in nine second-half minutes soon livened things up.

Crawley took the lead when Josh Simpson tapped in on 70 minutes. Pools don’t come back from going a goal down – after conceding first they have avoided defeat on only four previous occasions, losing 20.

But Monkhouse floated a fine header in from a Luke James cross, then ‘little’ created again for ‘large’ minutes later.

Scott Flinders cleared, James headed on and Monkhouse nonchalantly volleyed in from 25 yards.

After two seasons of treading water, Monkhouse has ended the season by scoring four times in as many games and has notched five of Pools’ last seven goals in League One.

Will he be around in League Two?

He’s one of many who are waiting today to find out.