If only they had struck this sort of form earlier in the season.
The introduction of emerging young talent made all the difference for Pools against their fierce North East rivals Darlington in 1981.
They were after revenge after a thumping in the away fixture earlier in the season. They got it in style.
Three of the Pools team had come up from the Northern Intermediate League squad which was bidding to win the NIL title. More than 5,000 fans turned out to watch this fixture and Pools didn’t disappoint.
Stars included Barry Stimpson who was described as “a revelation at left back.” Andy Linighan’s partnership at the centre of defence with John Bird was paying dividends as they kept their 18th clean sheet of the season.
“Linighan was outstanding,” said our report at the time. “His power in the air and on the ground are phenomenal for a player of his age and if he doesn’t make the grade as a professional footballer, everybody who has een him in his four senior games so far will be really surprised.”
Andy Linighan’s power in the air and on the ground are phenomenal for a player of his age and if he doesn’t make the grade as a professional footballer, everybody who has een him in his four senior games so far will be really surprised.Hartlepool Mail sports reporter in 1981
Up front, David Howard was playing only his second match and hadn’t scored on his debut the week before.
But he had “a gift for goals” and opened his account against Darlington with a strike described as “the sort of goal any player would have been happy to score.”
Pools were underdogs and the odds certainly seemed against them. They lost the first derby, at Darlington on Boxing Day.
Their team had been badly affected by a cold outbreak which had affected a number of players.
And Darlington fans went into the game poking fun at Billy Horner’s team - clearly confident of an easy victory.
But come match day, it was Pools who dominated.
After an even first half, Howard opened the scoring on 56 minutes.
John Linacre’s cross field run saw him suddenly change direction and send a pass through to Howard who raced through.
Darlo keeper Cuff came off his line but Howard coolly lobbed the ball home.
The home team had to wait until the 77th minute to double their lead. Bobby Kerr chipped into the middle of the park where Houchen headed it down for Lincare to race in and send a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner.
There were other chances too. Houchen could have had a penalty but Pools had done well and got their revenge while keeping the visiting team quiet.