Pools battlers showed true grit in this 1997 encounter
The great escape was very much on and gathering pace in Hartlepool in 1997.
After a long period of facing possible relegation, Pools were showing signs of real fight. And it was perfectly illustrated in this 3-1 home victory which was down to a mix of players looking rejuvenated, new faces coming in, and forwards seeing more of the ball than they had done in a long time.
The Hartlepool Mail reporter at the time said: “At times it is far from pretty, and there will be few unbitten fingernails left among the Victoria Park faithful when the final whistle sounds on May 3.
“But if they sustain the effort they showed against Leyton Orient on Saturday, the chances are that it will be another Division Three campaign rather than a spell in the GM Vauxhall Conference that they will be contemplating.”
Despite their bright early play, it was Orient who took the lead after 29 minutes. Justin Channing fired in a 25-yard shot which was past Pools keeper Paul O’Connor before he could move.
Thirteen minutes later, Pools were level. The scorer was an unlikely one. Defender Russell Bradley stayed upfield after a failed set piece attack and when Graeme Lee chested down a cross, Bradley rammed home a 20-yard left foot shot.
Two minutes after the re-start, Pools almost had the lead. Paul Baker volleyed a cross from Michael Brown towards the roof of the net only for Orient keeper Paul Hyde to pull off a point blank save.
Hyde could do nothing to keep out Baker ten minutes later and it was the first for the striker since his return to Pools.
He rose to power home a header from a Brown corner. It was yet another contribution from Brown who was described as outstanding.
Despite going 2-1 up, Pools lost their way a little with victory beckoning.
It came down to Stephen Halliday to seal the win with his seventh goal of the season when he ran on to a through ball from Baker, rounded the keeper and crashed a shot into the roof of the net.
Hartlepool: O’Connor, Knowles, Lucas, Cullen, Bradley, Lee, Allon, Cooper, Baker, Halliday (Clegg, 90), Brown. Subs not used; Ingram, Howard.
Leyton Orient: Hyde, Channing, Naylor, Chapman (Ling 65), Warren, Timmons, Arnott, Atkin (Fortune-West 73), Griffiths, McGleish, Morrison (Garland).
Referee; Trevor Jones (Barrow-in-Furness).