Slip sliding away ... to a rain-soaked 1971 Pools win

Neil Warnock tested the Reading defence in the pouring rain.
Neil Warnock tested the Reading defence in the pouring rain.

All the omens were that this was not going to be Pools’ day.

Mick Gadsby was suffering from the effects of flu, and international winger Eric Welsh was a late injury worry.

Mick Gadsby who was a late injury scare for Pools.

Mick Gadsby who was a late injury scare for Pools.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the rain was lashing it down for this early season league encounter with Reading, which was played in front of a crowd of 2,431.

But both players were passed fit and Pools seemed to be not the least bit bothered about the rain, no matter how hard it came down.

In fact, our reporter Sentinel stated at the time: “Hartlepool have got their season off to a great start.”

Lining up for Pools was a team with some notable names, such as Bill Green and player manager Len Ashurst in defence, alongside Alan Goad.

If we can judge anything in the conditions at the Victoria Ground, Hartlepool have got their season off to a great start

Sentinel, 1971

Further forward, Neil Warnock was making an impression.

But at first, it was the rain which made the biggest mark on the game with players slipping and sliding every time they moved near the ball.

The drab opening exchanges were soon forgotten when Pools forward Young challenged for a ball with Reading’s Harley, and Young was sent tumbling in the opposition penalty box.

Ellis took the resultant penalty on 13 minutes and tucked it away nicely.

Fouls were coming thick and fast with so many players mistiming their challenges. They were finding it hard to stop their momentum after the ball had gone.

On 31 minutes, Pools were 2-0 up when Young picked up a brilliant through ball from Welsh and slammed a tremendous shot over Death’s head from the edge of the box.

Reading seemed to be struggling to contain Pools’ forward movement and went close again when a Warnock cross reached Clarke who just shot over the bar.

As the second half dawned, Pools faced the prospect of having the wind against them. Reading pressed hard to get back into the game and got their rewards on 60 minutes.

It was a well taken effort with T Wagstaff firing home, unmarked in the box after Swain had pulled the ball back.

The game was back in the balance but Pools restored their two-goal advantage on 70 minutes, after a period when they gradually nullified Reading’s threat.

Reading conceded a second penalty and Ellis was there to slot home once again.

Sentinel’s summary said Pools’ win had been a “refreshing change from last season’s failings”.