Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pool's Emotion Is Their Undoing; Hopes of Tribute to Team-Mate Are Dashed

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pool's Emotion Is Their Undoing; Hopes of Tribute to Team-Mate Are Dashed

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

Hartlepool United 1

Brighton 2

HERE were two constants in the tributes to Michael Maidens in Hartlepool United's programme on Saturday: the midfielder's smile and his enduring kindness. So it was particularly unfortunate when the desire of his former team-mates to mark the 20- year-old's death in a car crash got the better of them against Brighton, neither characteristic was much in evidence.

From the messages on the many shirts, flags and scarves decking the Victoria Park gates it was clear that, while Hartlepool United had lost a footballer, many in the town had lost a friend.

With the players who wore Maidens' name on their shirts desperate to honour him with a win in front of their biggest home gate this season, Brighton exploited their inability to rein in that desire at key moments.

They came in the two periods of added time, Willie Boland dismissed for lashing out at the end of the first half, then substitute Bas Savage denying Pool the point they thought they had rescued.

Having equalised through Richie Barker's 86th-minute penalty, it was a painful blow to Pool's emotionally drained players. So for Savage to dance in front of the dug-outs while team-mate Tommy Elphick apparently taunted Barker, was the final straw. Nine seconds after the restart, when the final whistle blew, punches appeared to be thrown.

Brighton's football, if not their attitude, merited victory. They led from the 13th minute when Ben Clark tried to clear Dean Cox's cross. The ball slid off his bald head into the net.

In the 40th minute, Andrew Whing wound up Jamie McCunnie after the Scot thumped a challenge into him. It seemed to be on Boland's mind when, six minutes later, he reacted to Cox's hard but fair tackle. The result was a red card and a scuffle in the tunnel at half time.

Hartlepool manager Danny Wilson had no sympathy for his midfielder. "You can't go around kicking people," he said. "Willie knows that, he's let himself and the players down. …

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