Date: 18th May 2009 at 8:01pm
Written by:

Vital Hartlepool Exclusive

After the success of late October Pools were looking to build on their winning streak but they failed to win any of there league games. They progressed into the third round of the FA Cup but that was the only joy to come out of a disappointing November.

A Tale Of Two Halves

Pools played Leyton Orient at the Matchroom Stadium and after a bright half from the visitors, in the rain and the snow, they couldn’t find the back of the net. But Adam Boyd, who was later to rejoin Pools, struck a shot from the edge of the D on 81 minutes and give Orient all three points and ended Pools 5 match winning streak.

The FA Cup was up next. The most famous competition in the world often brings up shocks and thrills. Earlier in the day Blyth Spartans beat Shrewsbury 3-1, and when the full-time whistle went at the Spartans, Pools went into half time 2-0 down against Brighton. Kevin McLeod give the hosts the lead before Dean Cox extended their lead to two goals. But never rule Pools out.

After their recent comebacks Pools were at it again. Colin Hawkins turned a cross into his own net on 53 minutes and two minutes later James Brown levelled the scores. Then it was to get better. Pools pressed for the lead and on 69 minutes Andy Monkhouse fired Pools in-front and Pools had came from two behind once more. But there is always a twist in the story in the FA Cup. Stuart Fleetwood levelled the scores again and the tie was to be settled by a replay.

Referee Spoils Game

Every fan has the occasional moan about their referee but without being to bias, Hartlepool United have more then their faire-share of bad officials. And after this woeful officiating by Neil Swarbrick few fans would be forgiven too voicing their opinion after his controversial decisions ruined a game that would have been, a very entertaining affair.

Sam Collins was dismissed on 26 minutes for allegedly bringing down his marker, and being last man despite Ritchie Humphreys coming across to assist Collins. Then 10 minutes after Dean Lewington and Mark Wright put the Dons two in-front and left Pools a mountain to climb.

Sean O’Hanlon gave Pools a glimmer of hope after putting the ball into his own net after the restart but after various chances missed by Pools, Daniel Powell struck for the Dons in the dying minutes and the visitors went home with all three points, despite Pools quite rightly felling they had been robbed.

Cup Joy Marred By Hammering

Pools advanced to the next round of the FA Cup after a 2-1 victory over Brighton despite falling behind to Nicky Forster’s first half-strike. But Pools came out of the blocks eager for goals, but it took them till 67 minutes before they levelled the scores. Joel Porter converted a penalty then Gary Liddle put Pools ahead 3 minutes later and Pools faced a trip to Fleetwood Town in the next round.

But the Cup delight was over-shadowed by Pools hammering at Elland Road. Jermaine Beckford fired the hosts ahead but Joel Porter pulled Pools back on level terms going into half-time. Matty Robson was exposed at left back which worked a treat for wonder kid Fabian Delph who tortured Robson. He cut into the box on 50 minutes and put the hosts ahead once more. Then Becchio extended Leeds lead to 2 goals and Pools were playing catch up with their opponents but Beckford grabbed a fourth for Leeds in added time and Pools and their travelling army went home reflecting on a disappointing second half display.

Brown’s Season Ended By Injury But Pools Advance to Third Round

After 8 goals in 23 games, James Brown was on course for a season that could have brought him 20+ goals. But despite Nelson’s opener and Jeff Hughes this game was over shadowed by the injury that would keep Brown out for the rest of the season. But Pools had to respond after the disastrous news and they did in in perfect fashion.

In a foggy match at Fleetwood, 1000 Poolies made the trip west hoping to see Pools clinch a third-round spot. Fleetwood took a surprise lead on 14 minutes through Andy Bell after he surged past a helpless back four. But Michael Mackay levelled the scores 3 minutes later and the sheer mass of fog, meant the Pools fans couldn’t see the other end of the pitch. And chants of ‘Can you tell us if we score’ rang around the stadium. Then straight after the restart Mackay chipped over the ball over the keeper and Pools were in-front and soon after Joel Porter extended Pools lead by a further goal.

But Adam Warlow made sure Pools couldn’t relax after he reduced the deficit back to just one goal on 66 minutes. The game died down in tempo but with seconds left Arran Lee-Barrett appeared to punch Bell after the two collided. Lee-Barrett was booked and Pools won the free-kick but Lee-Barrett was later to be punished with a three game ban by the FA after the incident. But despite the nervy few moments Pools progressed into the next round, where Premier League Stoke awaited Pools.

Best Match: Fleetwood Town 2-3 Hartlepool United

Best Goal: Michael Mackay’s delightful chip over an on-looking Fleetwood keeper

Best Player: Joel Porter

Month Overview: Overall a disappointing month, despite the cup success. But December was to bring a month of changes