IF new owners TMH 2014 were under any doubt what they had taken on then the second-half display against Shrewsbury told them all they needed to know.
Chairman Peter Harris was watching on from the stands at Greenhous Meadow as Ronnie Moore’s Hartlepool United side suffered an all too familiar collapse.
At the break Pools looked to be heading for a well-earned point, at least, after a positive opening 45 minutes against a side unbeaten on home soil all season.
Moore’s men carved out the better openings, with Jonathan Franks, Rakish Bingham and Michael Duckworth all going close.
Pools, looking to build on the Cheltenham Town win, showed intensity, workrate and creativity yet within five minutes of the restart they were 1-0 down and by the 68th minute it was game over.
Micky Mellon’s Shrewsbury showed their class and thanks to a combination of some awful defending and good finishing, in the end ran out comfortable winners.
Depressingly familiar and a key reason why Pools lie bottom of Sky Bet League Two – now nine points from safety.
On far too few occasions this season this side has managed to put in a performance lasting the majority of the game.
Whether it is down to a lack of self belief or lack of talent is up for debate, a combination of the two most likely.
It will also have been clear to Harris & Co – who are still waiting for Football League approval – that new faces are needed. Urgently.
All over the pitch ideally, but in reality, a new striker, winger and defensive cover are the priority areas.
If they had managed to hold on for a point – or even snatched all three – it would have been a fantastic result and set things up nicely for Tranmere Rovers away.
But with Rovers and Carlisle both winning that compounded the second-half collapse even further. What will worry Moore, more than anything, is the lack of response to going 1-0 down.
Heads dropped, almost as if defeat was inevitable. And so it proved, as Shrewsbury cantered to victory to take them third.
Mellon has built a strong squad and the fact they are unbeaten in the league at home is testament to that, 11 wins and two draws now.
And they haven’t conceded since Didier Drogba scored in a Chelsea cup win way back in October.
It was always going to be a tough ask but Moore’s side, lining up in an attacking 4-4-2, were well organised and not shy in going forward.
You couldn’t tell which side was fourth and which was bottom at times during the first half, with little to separate the teams.
Moore opted to start with Marlon Harewood up front alongside Rakish Bingham with Scott Fenwick dropping to the bench, a move which sparked a mass outcry on social media, Fenwick having scored in the 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town.
Moore admitted it was a big decision but stuck by it.
It was a lively start, with Shrewsbury’s Liam Lawrence seeing a deflected shot dip just wide before Mark Ellis powered a free header over the bar. Shrews striker James Collins was then played in but slipped and slashed his shot wide.
It was a let-off for Pools, who then came out of their shells after a spell of soaking up pressure.
Franks and Duckworth both went close with long-distance efforts, while Bingham saw a deflected effort tipped over and a powerful strike just dip over the bar.
It was end to end and Pools were certainly holding their own going into half-time but then it all went horribly wrong.
Shrewsbury opened the scoring in the 50th minute thanks to a touch of fortune.
The ball hit the back of Mangan’s leg but it dropped in a perfect position as he beat Scott Harrison too easily before curling an effort past Flinders.
Compton should have levelled for Pools but his header was weak and wayward before Shrewsbury doubled their lead just before the hour mark.
Cameron Gayle played in Grant down the right wing and he delivered a deep cross to Collins who played a one-two with Mangan before finishing with aplomb.
Heads had already dropped and it was soon 3-0 – Mangan with a free header to nod home Bobby Grant’s cross.
Harewood was then immediately hooked with Fenwick coming on but Shrewsbury were now in cruise control and really should have had more.
Flinders was called on to prevent Goldson and Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro adding to the scoreline. Aaron Tshibola attempted a late rally but it was too little, too late.
With a massive game to come at Tranmere, it is vital some new faces arrive.
Otherwise by this time next week it will already be too late – if the club hasn’t reached that point already.