Raj Singh's bid clears minor hurdles off the field as Matthew Bates' Pools turn the corner on it

Better late than never.

Monday, 19th March 2018, 7:17 am
Updated Monday, 19th March 2018, 7:20 am
Hartlepools Jake Cassidy fires in a shot from long range.

Jake Cassidy and Devante Rodney struck at the death to ensure Hartlepool United rescued an unlikely point at promotion-chasing AFC Fylde.

And although the club slid closer to the National League drop zone despite their North West heroics, this really felt like the definitive turning point on and off the field, in what has been an utterly forgettable season in Pools’ proud, long history.

Firstly, let’s deal with the off-field developments before we pick through the drama on it.

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Prospective new owner Raj Singh, who had potential new director of football Craig Hignett in his entourage, was in the stands.

He made a last minute call to attend, having seen his bid, fronted and partly funded by Jeff Stelling, to wrestle control from John Blackledge, clear a number of minor hurdles.

Barring any last minute hitches or changes of mind, Singh is expected to become the new owner in the not too distant future.

Those close to the deal have not ruled out completion before Wednesday’s six-pointer at Barrow. Although, this does seem a little optimistic.

So having lived with the threat of administration for months, talked about the fear of not having a football club to support in the town since the turn of the year, Poolies now have a cautious reason to be optimistic.

Yes, any new owner is a risk, but what have Pools got to lose?

Singh might be set to run Pools frugally, cutting the club’s cloth to suit - something they did so badly this campaign - but that is no bad thing.

Fans would accept that over previous regimes letting the place go to the edge or rack and ruin.

And that takes us on to on-field matters.

Let’s get the negatives out the way first. A draw at Fylde was a result anyone would have taken before kick-off. And at 3-1 down with two minutes to go I think people wouldn’t have given their right arm for a result of that nature.

But on the day it was not good enough. Just the one point means Pools are worse off than when they started, as this week’s opponents Barrow upset the odds and produced a win at Maidenhead, while Solihull also got a draw with Torquay.

That means just three points separate Pools from the dreaded drop zone.

Despite that, though, there was a hell of a lot to be positive about on the pitch.

The first 45 minutes on Saturday was probably the best we have seen from a Pools side this season.

Compact, hard-to-beat and a threat on the break. Pools looked dangerous at one end and solid at the other.

As a result they went in 1-0 up at the break. And although the goal was fortuitous, it was little less than the visitors deserved.

While the first half ticked so many boxes, the second, in many ways, was the very opposite.

Pools shipped two goals within 10 minutes of the break, as Bates’ half-time plans went out the window.

But they showed character, grit. They did not chuck the towel in and the most important of all, sprinkled a bit of quality on all of the recent hard work. You’ll struggle to see two better goals, in quick succession, anywhere, at any level.