A look back at Hartlepool United's previous 11 play-off matches as they look to turn things around against Bromley

Hartlepool United will take part in their first play-off match in 16 years when they host Bromley at Victoria Park on Sunday (2:30pm kick-off).

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 12:30 pm

An entire generation of Pools fans weren’t even born the last time the club partook in the play-offs – so here’s a reminder of how those games went…

Division Three – 1999-00

Hartlepool’s first ever play-off campaign saw them matched up against arch-rivals Darlington following a seventh placed finish in division three (League Two)

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It proved to be one to forget for Chris Turner’s side as they were beaten 2-0 at Victoria Park in front of just shy of 7,000 supporters. Craig Liddle and Marco Gabbiadini were the scorers in either half for The Quakers in the first leg.

The second leg saw an early Gary Strodder own goal put the result beyond doubt as Darlo progressed through to the final.

There would be some consolation for Pools as Darlington would go on to lose to Peterborough in the final.

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Steven MacLean of Sheffield Wednesday scores from a penalty during the Coca-Cola Football League One play-off final between Hartlepool v Sheffield Wednesday on May 29, 2005 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Division Three – 2000-01

The following season, Pools made the play-offs again in the fourth tier.

After missing out on automatic promotion by three points, a play-off semi-final against Blackpool followed.

A second half brace from Brett Ormerod at Bloomfield Road gave Pools another 2-0 deficit to overcome in the second leg.

Ritchie Humphreys of Hartlepool United celebrates with his team after winning the League One semi-final, second leg play-off match between Tranmere Rovers and Hartlepool United at Prenton Park on May 17, 2005 in Tranmere, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Ormerod found the net again at Victoria Park to put Blackpool 3-0 ahead on aggregate before Kevin Henderson netted Pools’ first ever play-off goal to give the hosts some hope just after half-time.

Just two minutes later, Blackpool restored their thee goal advantage through John Hills’ effort before substitute Jermaine Easter was sent off for Hartlepool.

Ormerod rubbed salt into the wound to make it 5-1 on aggregate.

The Tangerines went on to earn promotion to Division Three with a 4-2 play-off final win over Leyton Orient.

Christian Roberts of Bristol City scores the winning goal during the second leg of the Nationwide Second Division play-off match between Bristol City and Hartlepool United at Ashton Gate, on May 19, 2004 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Division Three – 2001-02

A third play-off campaign in as many years came about following a remarkable run of six wins from Pools’ final seven games to jump from 11th to seventh.

It set up a semi-final tie with Cheltenham Town and this one would prove to be a lot closer than their previous play-off encounters.

Eifion Williams put Pools 1-0 ahead in front of 7,135 supporters at Victoria Park before Neil Grayson's last-minute strike made it all to play for going into the second leg with the tie level at 1-1.

It was the first time Pools had avoided defeat in a play-off match after five attempts, and they would do it again in the second leg.

Paul Arnison put Pools 2-1 up on aggregate with an early effort at Whaddon Road only for Lee Williams to square things up less than 10-minutes later.

The remainder of the game and extra-time couldn’t force another goal as penalties followed.

After 11 penalties, Ritchie Humphreys needed to score in order to keep Pools’ hopes alive. He stepped up only to have his effort saved by Steve Book via the woodwork.

Once again, Pools’ play-off campaign ended in heartbreak as The Robins progressed to beat Rushden & Diamonds in the final.

Division Two – 2003-04

Pools finally made their way out of League Two via the automatic places in 2003 and were able to mount a play-off charge at the first time of asking back in the third tier (League One).

A sixth placed finish matched Pools up with Bristol City in the semi-finals.

A disastrous start at Victoria Park had Pools trailing inside the opening five minutes through a Tony Rougier header.

Joel Porter levelled things up with 16-minutes remaining in front of 7,211 supporters – the largest play-off crowd at The Vic.

Pools led in the return leg at Ashton Gate thanks to an Antony Sweeney strike and looked set to secure a place in their first ever play-off final.

But a late turnaround from the hosts with an 88th minute header from Marc Goodfellow and 90th minute winner from Christian Rovers sent Bristol through to the final where they would go on to lose 1-0 to Brighton.

League One – 2004-05

In 2005, Pools took part in the League One play-offs following another sixth placed finish, the most recent play-off season in the club’s history.

Pools secured their first and what remains their only play-off match win at home to Tranmere Rovers in the semi-final. An Adam Boyd brace in front of 6,604 fans secured a 2-0 victory.

Martin Scott’s side travelled to Prenton Park looking to wrap up the tie, but ended up making things difficult for themselves.

After a goalless opening 70-minutes, Ryan Taylor’s free-kick pulled the hosts back into it before David Beresford’s late goal forced extra-time.

Penalties followed, and after two heroic saves from Dimi Konstantopoulos, Humphreys – who missed the decisive spot kick three years prior – stepped up and converted to send Pools through to the final against Sheffield Wednesday.

A memorable final saw Jon-Paul McGovern put Wednesday ahead before Pools turned the game on its head with goals from Williams and Jon Daly to go 2-1 up.

Hartlepool were eight minutes away from a place in the Championship when disaster struck. Chris Westwood’s foul on Drew Talbot saw the Pools defender controversially sent off and The Owls awarded a penalty.

Steve MacLean made it 2-2 to force extra-time where Wednesday made their numerical advantage count.

Glenn Whelan quickly put the South Yorkshire outfit in front before Talbot wrapped things up on the two hour mark.

National League – 2020-21

Two relegations and years of disappointment later and Pools are finally back in the play-offs with a chance of a Football League return.

To do that they’ll have to beat Bromley on Sunday (2:30pm kick-off), then Stockport County on June 13 (12pm kick-off) in the semi-final.

Win both matches and it’s the final at Ashton Gate on June 20 (2pm kick-off). After one win in 11 play-off matches, three straight wins and Hartlepool are back in the EFL, sounds simple, right?

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