Hartlepool United face another gruelling season but fixture list has been kind

Billy Paynter
Billy Paynter
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Hartlepool United fans face another daunting season on the road with supporters due to clock up more than 10,000 miles.

But at least the football gods that oversee the Football League fixture list have been kind this season.

Craig Hignett's side have been handed home games on the opening and closing weekends of the season plus two games on home turf over the festive period.

It is the first time that combination has happened since 2006-07.

Pools kick off the season at home on Saturday, August 6 with relegated Colchester United heading to Victoria Park.

The U's will provide a stern test but a home game represents a good chance for Hignett's new-look Pools side to kick the season off in style as they look to replicate last year's barnstorming start of four straight wins.

Hignett has moved quickly to get the key parts of his Pools jigsaw in place, with Trevor Carson, Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods among those to sign new deals.

Meanwhile, the key signings of striker Padraig Amond, central defender Toto Nsiala and attacking midfielder Nicky Deverdics have further boosted confidence among supporters.

League Two will be very competitive this season but Pools look well-placed to at least push for a play-off spot in League Two and a good start will be key.

The first away day is the 700-mile round trip to Exeter City on August 13 and unsurprisingly Hignett is pleased to get one of the longest away trips out the way early on.

The opening month then continues with another tough test at relegated Crewe Alexandra three days later before home games against Notts County and then Newport County.

September looks a far tougher month, with away games at Stevenage, Yeovil Town and Plymouth Argyle - but at least three of the longer trips will also be out the way sooner rather than later.

Poolies clocked up a record 10,542 miles in League Two last term and while several northern sides have come into the division, like Blackpool, Doncaster and Grimsby, the new mileage is still considerable - 10,070.

On the upside, Pools will be at home over Christmas, with Blackpool heading to The Vic on Boxing Day following their relegation from League One.

And in a quirk to this year's fixtures, clubs will be playing on New Year's Eve - with Morecambe heading to the North East.

Hignett, his players and the supporters will be looking to toast the end of 2016 with three points.

The festive period and Easter weekend are critical weeks with games coming thick and fast and the fixtures have been kind to Pools when it comes to travelling.

Rivals Carlisle United visit The Vic over Easter on April 15th - just in time for the 'business end' of the campaign.

Other notable fixtures to look out for include Carlisle United away on October 15, Doncaster Rovers away on November 19 and the trip to Blackpool on March 25 in the spring sunshine.

Pools finish the season with the visit of Doncaster Rovers on May 6 - a huge game to end with.

And fans will be hoping there is still something riding on that game at the right end of the League Two table.

With the 2016-17 fixtures now confirmed, hopes of a far more positive campaign are quietly growing among Pools supporters.