Hartlepool United 0 Dover Athletic 1: Pools given unceremonious welcome to National League football

Skipper Carl Magnay
Skipper Carl Magnay

A solitary first-half strike from Jamie Allen saw Craig Harrison's rein at Hartlepool United get off to a losing start.

The Whites winger tucked home on the half hour to ensure the three points went south, with Pools faltering on the open day in front of a bumper 3,954 crowd at Victoria Park.

Harrison handed debuts to five of his summer signings in the clash, with Jack Munns, Scott Loach, Conor Newton, Ryan Donaldson and Louis Laing.

In fact, Pools had Laing to thank for not falling behind within a few minutes when his timely nudge of former Hartlepool striker Ryan Bird unbalancing the striker enough to make sure he guided wide instead of past Loach.

But, having endured a difficult opening, Pools fell behind on the half hour when Allen found space in the area and guided home for 1-0. It looked like it could have been offside, but calls from the home defence were few and far between. The goal stood and in fairness it was little less than Dover deserved.

Pools struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game with the midfield unit particularly anonymous and Padraig Amond starved up support up top.

At the break the manager spotted the problems and attempted to address it by withdrawing Munns, suspect for the Athletic goal, and Michael Woods. They were replaced by Rhys Oates and Jake Cassidy as a switch to 4-4-2 was implemented.

While Pools improved marginally after the break it was the visitors who looked the most likely to score.

Kane Richards should have made it 2-0 but hammered over when well placed then with 20 left on the clock substitute Tobi Sho-Silva dragged wide after opening up a space in the Pools box with some clever feet. It's fair to say the hosts were living dangerously at the back.

At the other end Oates carved out the first real meaningful effort of the match, hammering a 25 yards shot in from an angle which took a heavy deflection of what appeared to be Joshua Passley's arm but nothing was given and the danger passed.

With 12 minutes left on the clock Pools produced their slickest move of the game, some intelligent movement from Amond worked some space for Newton, but his powerful right-footed effort was too close to Mitchell Walker in the Whites' goal.

A final throw of the dice by Harrison saw Nicky Deverdics come on against his former club, but the Geordie could not work his magic and despite late claims for a penalty, with Amond bundled over in the area, Allen's first-half strike was enough to hand Dover the win.

A lot of lessons to learn for Pools. But, nothing was ever won and lost on the first day. Ask Lincoln City.