It hadn’t been the best of times for Hartlepool United.
Their recent run of reverses had seen them slump to the bottom of the league in 1994.
And with only 1,387 people there to watch the game against Rochdale, fans’ hopes weren’t too high for this match either.
But Pools had other ideas, and just a week after slipping to bottom spot, they leapfrogged three other sides with this important victory.
Scott Sloan was the man to clinch the win and he did it with his head. He did it as much, though, through his impressive frontline work alongside the equally commanding Paul Thompson.
Nicky Southall also won plaudits for his pace on the wing, and Anthony Skedd seemed determined to make the most of a return to first team action.
The Hartlepool Mail reporter at the time said: “Too often this season, Pools have raised their game against good opposition only to lack the killer instinct needed in clashes with other weak teams.”
Hartlepool’s team was much-changed for this game and it clearly showed with plenty of vigour in the home team’s performance.
Skedd, Southall and Sloan all linked up early on but Sloan was unlucky to see his spectacular diving shot go just wide.
That was in the 13th minute and it was only another nine before he did get on the score sheet.
Pools got it from a corner which was taken by Southall. He knocked it to Mitch Cook who delivered a great cross.
Thompson headed it back across goal and Sloan was there to nod it in.
it was all Pools and it was all Sloan. He went close again on 25 minutes and had the ball in the net again not long after, only for it to be ruled offside.
Pools’ defence was barely being troubled while home debutants Shane Reddish and Paul Daughtry were controlling the match in midfield.
In fact, the game was so one-sided, the Hartlepool Mail reporter said at the time: “You felt sure that Rochdale had nothing to offer.”
Their day got worse when substitute Richard Sharpe was red carded for elbowing Phil Gilchrist.
Hartlepool: Horne, Burgess, Cook, Gilchrist, MacPhail, Skedd, Daughtry (Halliday), Reddish, Thompson, Sloan, Southall. Unused subs; Lynch, Jones.
Rochdale: Gray, Thackeray, Oliver, Reid, Matthews, Butler, Peake, (Doyle), Valentine, Whittington, Whitehill, Stuart (Sharpe).
Referee: Trevor West (Hull).