Nicky Featherstone scored in what could have been his final appearance for Hartlepool United in their defeat to Rochdale. (Photo: Frank Reid)
Hartlepool were picked apart by a slick Rochdale side in the opening 45 minutes as goals from Cian Hayes, Jimmy Keohane and Ryan East gave the away side an insurmountable lead despite Nicky Featherstone offering John Askey’s side hope deep into first half stoppage time.
Hayes latched onto a route one ball from goalkeeper Louie Moulden to poke by the returning Joel Dixon before Keohane met Kairo Mitchell’s flick on to double the lead.
And the away side pretty much had the game wrapped up when East went unchallenged towards the edge of the area before beating Dixon from distance.
Made it all too easy for Hayes to open the scoring inside three minutes. Beaten a little too easily for the second and third - albeit the third was a decent strike from East. Contributed to what was a pretty torrid defensive display from Hartlepool in the first half on his return to the side. (Photo: Frank Reid)
Featherstone gave Pools something of a lifeline with the final kick of the first half with a well-taken goal to reduce the deficit.
But despite a much-improved second half display, with Emmanuel Dieseruvwe scoring his 11
th goal of the season in the final five minutes, Pools had given themselves too much to do and were unable to claim an unlikely point as they dropped into the bottom half of the National League table.
And here is how Pools were rated after a third straight defeat:
Let Keohane run free much too easily for Rochdale to double their lead. Struggled up against Uchegbulam in the first half and didn’t provide much cover for Johnson. Did improve after the break as part of a four and made one or two decent recovery runs and added another assist to his name with a very good cross for Dieseruvwe. Went off injured. (Photo: FRANK REID 2022) Very difficult afternoon for the young defender. Was part of an entirely new three in central defence and there was a lack of communication throughout. Was beaten by Mitchell to assist the second and was nervy in one or two clearances. Both he and Mattock stood off too often, including when Hayes was allowed to dribble into the box late on. A learning curve. (Photo: NW) Was one of very few who actually showed for the ball in the first half. Was shuffled around in position which wasn’t ideal and allowed him to be dragged around a little by Rochdale in what was an impressive first half by them. Maybe a little unfortunate to be subbed off ahead of others at the break. (Photo: FRANK REID) Might feel he should have done better with the long ball forward for the opening goal and just wasn’t able to settle from that point. Lack of cohesion between himself, Dolan and Johnson and struggled to deal with Henderson and Mitchell. Missed a decent opportunity when heading over at the back post. Did make a very good last ditch tackle on Henderson late on. (Photo: Frank Reid) Struggled immensely like the rest in the first half as he was beaten too easily by Oduroh on occasion, with Hayes also giving him a difficult afternoon. His initial cross which led to Featherstone’s goal and he was much more of a threat after the break. Linked well with Featherstone for Dieseruvwe’s late chance. (Photo: FRANK REID NATIONALWORLD 2022) Was moved around into a role we don’t often see of him on the right but applied himself well. Kind of grabbed things by the scruff of the neck and at least showed a little bit of fight. Took his goal really well and could see the emotion in his celebration on what could be his final appearance. Linked well with Ferguson in the second half. (Photo: Frank Reid) Was too passive in the first half as Rochdale completely missed out the Hartlepool midfield. Attempted a strike from distance borne out of frutrastion before bringing a first decent save from Moulden. Did improve after the break with a couple of driving runs at the Rochdale defence and was unlucky with a well-struck free kick. (Photo: FRANK REID NATIONALWORLD 2022) Couldn’t get involved for much of the first half apart from one teasing cross to the back post which nobody had gambled on. Decent improvisation which led to Featherstone’s goal. Was a bit more energy about him in the second half as Pools tried to force the issue. (Photo: Frank Reid) Barely involved as he was subbed off with injury inside six minutes. (Photo: Frank Reid) Pressed quite well in the early going but had absolutely nothing to go at in the first half in what was a thankless task as he became almost a spectator. Had a hand in Featherstone’s goal and took his header really well, as you would expect, but will be haunted by his miss in stoppage time which would have rescued a point. (Photo: FRANK REID 2022) Back in the squad and came on early in place of Umerah but was largely uninvolved for much of the game. Did do well to create space on his left and test Moulden late on with a decent strike. (Photo: Frank Reid) Brought on some much needed energy and spice at the break. Looked a little like he had a point to prove after being taken off in midweek. Needed to get his shot away a little quicker when receiving possession on the edge of the area. Did okay. (Photo: Frank Reid) Late sub for the injured Hendrie and almost forced an equaliser deep into stoppage time. (Photo: FRANK REID NATIONALWORLD 2022)