Pools look built for promotion and on this form won't be far away
How soon is too soon?
League tables never lie, but when do they really become relevant?
Some will say from the opening couple of weeks, you also have the ‘wait till November’ lot.
It’s a long held debate up and down the land.
Well, Hartlepool United sit just THREE points off the top of the National League table. The closest they have been to the summit since they were dumped out of the Football League eighteen months or so ago.
And given the lows of recent years, I think it’s fine to let yourself gaze at the fifth tier standings over the next few days, even if you think it’s a bit on the premature side. Go on, live a little.
Nicky Featherstone’s second goal in nine days ensured Pools made it three wins out of three at this level, and two in 48 hours.
The midfielder cracked home his sixth career goal in blue and white midway through the opening 45 to seal victory over Martin Allen’s Chesterfield, who were pre-season promotion favourites.
For the fourth game in a row, manager Matthew Bates named an unchanged XI, despite hinting he may make some changes following the club’s 2-1 win at Dagenham at the weekend.
And it was business as usual, even if the start was a touch subdued.
But it didn’t stay like that for too long as physical Chesterfield threw their weight around and the long throws of Samuel Muggleton, whose rockets from the touchline put Rory Delap and Dave Challinor to shame, caught the eye.
It was Pools, though, against the run of play, somewhat, who broke the deadlock.
Featherstone, fresh from his first goal of the season last time out at the Vic against Maidenhead United nine days previous, smashed home with a low, left-footed effort from the edge of the area.
Michael Woods should have made it 2-0 soon after and Mark Kitching could also have netted his first of the campaign but rampant Pools, buoyed by the opener, looked to press home their advantage.
A half that ebbed and flowed then swung back the way of the Spireites, as Zavon Hines was guilty of a miss that should have seen his team level.
Muggleton’s launch into the area found the frontman, but he could only guide straight at Loach, with the goal at his mercy.
A threat with the ball in hand, Muggleton almost did the business with his feet shortly before the break, too.
His shot from the edge of the area, bound for one corner, took a wicked deflection, and despite having initially dived one way Loach managed to recover and claw the ball away as it headed for the opposite corner of his net. It was some save from the big man.
After a half of football that had chances at both ends, drama and incident, goals in the second half seemed a certainty.
Ref Joe Hull made for an ill-tempered close to this one, where the cards came out, and tensions built.
But, as they did at Dagenham and against Maidenhead, Pools showed they’ve learned lessons from their early season wobbles and saw the game out with a degree of ease.
Eighth place, three off the top, riding the crest of a wave and struggling Havant up next – Pools have plenty of cause for optimism this campaign.
Carl Magnay and Featherstone have stepped up to the plate - the former was magnificent in the second 45. Peter Kioso looks a colossus, Muir and Luke James are out of this world.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – this is a team built for promotion. And if it keeps this kind of form up, Pools will not be far away come May.