HARTLEPOOL United ran out 9-0 winners over Billingham Town in their first pre-season match this evening.
Goals from Jack Compton, Marlon Harewood, Brad Walker, Kieran Green, a Jonathan Franks brace and a hat-trick from substitute Connor Smith sealed the comprehensive victory for Colin Cooper’s side.
It was one-way traffic for Pools for the majority of the match against Town, who play in the Ebac Northern League Division Two following their relegation from Northern League Division One last season.
Cooper named both new signings, Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby in his first starting line-up of the season against Town who are managed by Darren Trotter.
As expected, Parnaby started the game in the holding midfield position alongside trialist Eugen Bopp.
Former Boro defender Bates was in the centre of defence alongside Neil Austin, injury free after a long spell out last season with a troublesome toe injury.
In midfield, Bopp and Parnaby were joined by Jack Compton on the right-wing and Jonathan Franks bombing down the left, with Billingham-born Brad Walker in the centre and Harewood the focal point up front.
In the 8th minute Harewood broke free inside the box but his chip was cleared to the head of the onrushing Walker - named captain for the night - but his tame header was straight into the hands of Corey Smith in the Town goal.
Three minutes later and Harewood was again gifted a chance of putting Pools in front.
Left-back Darren Holden’s deep cross to the back post was met by the former West Ham United striker but again it was comfortable for Smith.
Walker went close in the 14th minute, connecting well with a Michael Duckworth cross but the 18-year-old’s volley was inches wide of the post.
Sky Bet League Two side Pools were looking the more dangerous in the opening stages, as you’d expect against their non-league counterparts.
Bopp looked confident on the ball and almost wriggled free inside the box but for a precise last-ditch tackle from Steven Hodgson.
Pools eventually took the lead in the 20th minute - Number 11 Compton - with a long range effort from the right-wing that evaded keeper Smith and into the back of the net.
It was just rewards for Cooper’s side who had bossed possession and had the better of the chances in the opening stages.
Walker looked bright and blasted a shot high over the bar moments later when he had acres of space to take the ball on further.
It was then Bopp’s turn but after doing the hard work of shaking off his defender, his shot from eight-yards was screwed wide of the left-hand post.
Moments later it was 2-0.
Harewood with the powerful finish from close range after Smith failed to deal with a Jonathan Franks cross from the left-wing.
The second goal for Pools seemed to spur on the home side and Drew Lambert tested Scott Flinders with a 25-yard lobb but the back-pedalling keeper managed to get in position to tip it over the bar.
Stuart Brown then nodded the resulting corner wide with a header, when he should have done better.
The first subs were made just past the half-hour mark.
Trialist Biko Bradnock-Brennan, Jordan Richards, Josh Rowbotham and Luke James coming on for Duckworth, Bates, Parnaby and Compton.
Walker thought he was coming off as well but was quickly ushered back on to the field of play.
Pools, at times, played some attractive, free-flowing football with Harewood and the dangerous Franks linking up well as the game approached the half-time break.
Bopp was again at the heart of the action in the 41st minute, acrobatically connecting with a cross into the box but again his effort was just wide.
Three minutes before the break it was 3-0 thanks to a cool finish from the edge of the area from Walker, who sidefooted the ball through a group of players and past Smith after good work down the left-wing from Harewood.
HALF TIME: Billingham Town 0 Pools 3
Cooper made five further changes at half-time with Flinders, Austin, Holden, Walker and Harewood all coming off the field to be replaced by Andy Rafferty, Josh Nearney, Dan Jones, Lewis Hawkins and Kieran Green.
But it didn’t take long for the away side to add to their lead.
Green with a smart header moments after the re-start to make it 4-0.
Forward Franks then added two goals in the space of two minutes, the first in the 50th minute was a 20-yard thunderbolt past the hapless Smith while his second was another smart finish from the edge of the area.
Even with Pools now leading 6-0 the pace or intensity from the away side didn’t dip and they continued to push forward in search of further goals.
Green and Lewis Hawkins both going close.
Luke James and dangerman Franks then teamed up well in the 65th minute to tee up substitute Connor Smith for a tap in to make it 7-0.
It was 8-0 in the 77nd minute, Smith with some tidy play on the edge of the penalty area before another low finish past his namesake.
Within a minute Franks had clipped the top of the crossbar.
It was starting to get embarassing and the 9th goal came in the 82nd minute - Smith completing his hat-trick with another fine finish from the left-hand side of the penalty area after good work again from Franks.
A good start, therfore, for Cooper’s Hartlepool United side.
FULL TIME: Billingham Town 0 Pools 9
Pools: Flinders (Rafferty, 45), Duckworth (Richards, 35), Bates (Brennan, 35), Austin (Nearney, 45), Holden (Jones, 45), Parnaby (Rowbotham 35), Walker (C) (Hawkins, 45), Bopp (Smith, 65), Compton (James, 35), Harewood (Green, 45), Franks.
Subs: Rafferty, Richards, Brennan, Jones, Rowbotham, Green, Hawkins, James, Nearney, Smith.
Billingham: Smith, Jackson, Marron (Hodgson, 90), Lambert, Hodgson, Brown, Whensley, Watson (C) (Fenby, 66), Callender, Foley, Ballentyne.
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Taylor, Taylor.