Early kick-off reaps rewards for Pools

A 12pm kick-off paid dividends for Hartlepool when beat York City at the Victoria Ground.

Friday, 17th March 2017, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:09 am
Phil Linacre who was in fine form for Pools.

A crowd of 1,604 people turned up for the match which was 200 higher than that season’s average for the Fourth Division games at Pools.

By the end, most felt the change to an earlier starting time was well worth it.

Paul Dobson tries to win possession from the York player-manager Denis Smith.

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It had come about because the West rugby team had a huge game in the John Player Cup that day in 1983. West bowed out of the competition but the Mail reporter said at the time: “That doesn’t mean that Pool should forget about the early kick-off idea altogether.

“After all, in recession-hit League football, even as many as 200 extra paying customers are worth attracting and if it was the early kick-off which brought the larger crowd out, then surely it is worth trying again.”

As to the match itself, Pools won with two very different goals. One was a classic. A determined Phil Linacre shrugged off two challenges in a fine run down the middle after Kenny Lowe’s through ball, and scored with a scorching 20-yard left foot shot.

The other was a real scramble. Paul Staff scored on 47 minutes when the ball was forced over the line from close range after the York defence had made a mess of covering Paul Dobson’s low right-wing cross.

Paul Dobson tries to win possession from the York player-manager Denis Smith.

Once Pools had taken the lead, it seemed to be plain sailing for the home team all the way.

Our reporter said at the time: “They managed not only to look better than a side in danger but also made York look rather weak for a team with promotion ambitions.”

The match report described this win as revenge for league and cup thrashings at York that season. They had leaked nine goals in two visits to Bootham Crescent.

Pools chances of avoiding re-election were given a huge boost thanks to this win and its significance was not lost on manager Billy Horner.

“We played well as a team,” he said. “And for a change we managed to keep it up for 90 minutes.”

The win did come with one down side. Goalkeeper Eddie Blackburn, who appeared against York after seeming to have recovered from the flu, found his condition had worsened.

It meant he was forced to sit out the game against Mansfield. Teenager Gary Wright came into the side.

Billy Horner had to consider whether to make changes for what he expected to be a hard-fought game against Mansfield.