Inconsistent Hartlepool pay the price EBBSFLEET 3 HARTLEPOOL 0
CRAIG Harrison bandied about the F-word as Hartlepool United suffered a promotion set-back: Frustratioin.
Just four days after leading Pools to the biggest win of his six-month reign at Victoria Park, a 4-0 rout of Halifax, he witnessed his heaviest defeat at Stonebridge Road.
Pools dropped two places in the National League, from 11th to 13th, with the South East London side leapfrogging them in the table.
Myles Weston gave Fleet the lead midway through the first half, with skipper Danny Kedwell doubling the advantage at the half-way stage of the second half.
Luke Coulson’s sweet shot late on added the coup de grace,
“Frustration is the word,” said Harrison. “We’ve been nothing like we were on Tuesday night.
“We’re lacking consistency. We were poor last Saturday, brilliant on Tuesday and average today. That’s not good enough for our standards.
“As ridiculous as this sounds, I don’t think at any point of the game we’ve been under real pressure.
“It’s so frustrating, we’ve given away three bad goals.
“They scored their first from a set-piece, the second from a poorly-defended cross and the third when we’ve been stretched.
“I don’t recall them having a spell of pressure.”
Harrison had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting XI for the first time since the start of October, and they looked confident in the ball.
However, for all their possession, they could not fashion an opening.
Not that Ebbsfleet were overflowing with chances, but the Kent side did go ahead in the 22nd minute.
Weston brought a top drawer save from Scott Loach who tipped his deflected shot over for a corner.
And the midfielder, recalled into the Fleet XI, got control of the ball from the corner with his shot from the edge of the area deceiving the Pools keeper who could not keep it out.
Pools responded with a good spell of possession and pressure with Jake Cassidy having a shot blocked by Kenny Clark
Sean Shields went agonisingly close to a second for Fleet when he flashed a shot just wide of Loach’s left stick.
Pools have made a habit of second-half comebacks and they finally got a sight of Nathan Ashmore’s goal with two chances inside five second-half minutes.
Michael Woods teed up Devante Rodney with Ashmore saving well low to his right.
There was another opening from the side’s first corner, Louis Laing heading over the top from Nicky Deverdics’ delivery.
But Pools were rocked in the 68th minute when Shields did superb work on the left to cross into the six-yard area where Kedwell nodded home at the back post.
Pools had appeals for a spotkick turned down in the 72nd minute when Rhys Oates went down.
That could have proved a route back, but it was all over eight minutes from time.
Weston and Sam Magri combined nicely down the right with the ball delivered to Coulson who produced a sweet finish from the edge of the area into the keeper’s right-hand corner.
“That’s the first time we’ve conceded three times in the league and it’s not good enough,” added Harrison.
Gateshead keeper Dan Hanford clears during their 1-1 draw at Solihull Moors
Gateshead’s Robbie Tinkler makes a tackle against Solihull Moors