MICK Wadsworth saw enough in the way his side rattled Premier League Sunderland to declare Hartlepool United “ready and raring” for the new season.
For the opening half hour of Ritchie Humphreys’ testimonial match a neutral observer would have been hard pressed to identify the top-flight outfit.
Former Newcastle United ace Nobby Solano slid Pools into the lead after just seven minutes, silencing the Black Cat boos which had greeted his every touch.
And, until Asamoah Gyan levelled on 30 minutes, the hosts were in control.
Thereafter the Premier pedigree of the visitors shone through and second-half goals from Jack Colback and Seb Larsson sealed a 3-1 win for Steve Bruce’s Wearsiders.
Wadsworth had named within one player, probably Humphreys, the side which will start at MK Dons in three days time, and the Pools chief wasn’t the only one impressed by their performance.
“Steve (Bruce) said to me afterwards the game was fantastic for them because we gave them a real workout and a real shock in the first half,” he told SportMail.
“And I must say I thought we did very well in that opening period.
“We moved the ball very well and pushed them back.
“We caused them problems and opened up what was a very experienced back four.
“Nobby’s goal was a super finish and was a great bit of football to open the whole thing up, as good as we’ve had through all of pre-season.
“To match a team like that, albeit for a half, is very encouraging.
“We’re ready for the new season now and we’re raring to go.
“This was a marvellous occasion but the real stuff starts this weekend and we can’t wait and I think we’re in excellent shape, as we’ve seen last night.”
Full story in Wednesday’s Mail ...