It wasn’t the best preparation to a match. Pools were without three of their best players going into this home tie with Bradford City 25 years ago this month.
Record signing Lenny Johnrose and Player of the Year Keith Nobbs were ruled out before the match and fellow Pools player John Gallagher was not ready to start outright and had to settle for a place on the bench.
Young guns Nicky Southall and Paul Wratten stepped up to the mark as replacements for Johnrose and Nobbs and proved to be able deputiesHartlepool Mail reporter
But Alan Murray need not have worried. There were plenty of other heroes on a day when Hartlepool overcame a tough and uncompromising Bradford team.
Young guns Nicky Southall and Paul Wratten stepped up to the mark as replacements for Johnrose and Nobbs and proved to be able deputies.
In fact, they were so good they both scored and only the width of the woodwork denied Southall a second.
The first goal came when John MacPhail put forward a huge headed clearance which caught the Bradford defence cold.
It fell invitingly for Southall and he headed over the visiting keeper Paul Tomlinson and into the net.
Bradford’s luck was definitely out and they lost defender Gary Williams to a leg injury on 33 minutes.
But they still managed to storm forward and test Pools keeper Martin Hodge out with a string of useful efforts. He was up to the task and first saved down low from Sean McCarthy, then blocked a Paul Jewell shot, before saving again from McCarthy.
End-to-end stuff saw Wratten being gifted his first League goal, 14 minutes after the interval.
Dean Emerson sent a free kick foreard and it was headed into the path of the former Manchester United midfielder. He was 25 yards from the Bradford line and hit a firm shot goalwards but Tomlinson appeared to have it covered.
But as he stooped to save it, the ball squirmed through his hands and under his body.
It was almost three 5 minutes later when Southall latched on to an Emerson pass, only to see his shot come back off the far post.
Bradford had one player sent off and three others shown the yellow card as discipline suffered.
Hartlepool: Hodge, R Cross, P Cross, Tait, MacPhail, Emerson, Southall, Olsson, Saville, Honour, Wratten. Subs not used: McGuckin, Gallagher.
Bradford: Tomlinson, Heseltine, Oliver. M Duxbury, Blake, Lawford, Jewell, Williams (Torpey), McCarthy, Tinnion, Reid. Sub not used: McHugh.
Referee: WA Flood (Bramhall).