Chesterfield to provide Hartlepool United with biggest test yet in the National League

John Askey believes today's trip to Chesterfield will help give Hartlepool United a better understanding as to where they are in the National League this season.
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Hartlepool face, arguably, their biggest test yet in the opening month of the campaign when they visit pre-season favourites Chesterfield at the SMH Group Stadium.

Askey’s side hit top spot in the National League on Saturday after they capitalised on earlier defeats for both the Spireites and Barnet by beating AFC Fylde at the Suit Direct Stadium.

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Askey was quick to dismiss the significance of his side occupying top spot after just five games of the season, but a victory over Paul Cook’s side would emphasise their credentials of being able to compete this year as they look to make a quick return to the Football League.

Hartlepool United head to Chesterfield in the National League. Picture by FRANK REIDHartlepool United head to Chesterfield in the National League. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United head to Chesterfield in the National League. Picture by FRANK REID

Pools will be backed by a sell-out away following in Derbyshire this afternoon but Askey believes, having secured three points at the weekend, there is more pressure on the home side.

“It’s only five games in. Being top of the league means nothing at the moment, but it’s a good start which gives everybody confidence,” said Askey.

“We move onto the next one and it’s going to be a tough game against Chesterfield but it will probably give us an idea of where we are.

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“It will be a big test, especially at their place,” he added.

“They’re probably the biggest club in the league, financially they’re well backed. But if we can keep putting the effort in that we’re doing, no matter who we play, we think we’ve got a chance.

"But in some ways by winning [against Fylde] it gives us a little bit of a free hit and the pressure is more on Chesterfield than it is ourselves.”

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Askey may have one or two selection headaches this afternoon after being able to field the same starting line-up for the last three consecutive fixtures.

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Chris Wreh was taken off early in the second half against Fylde with a hamstring issue while Charlie Seaman was also substituted late in the game with a knock.

Dan Dodds required treatment for a heavy challenge in the closing stage of that game with Askey, perhaps, most concerned about the young defender ahead of today’s game.

Should Dodds miss out, Askey will likely look to Edon Pruti, Kieran Burton or Matt Dolan to replace the defender

Pools will be boosted by the return of striker Josh Umerah after he served the third and final game of his ban against Fylde.

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The 26-year-old could return to the starting line-up to partner Emmanuel Dieseruvwe although he may face competition from Joe Grey who has made two impressive substitute appearances in the club’s last two games, including scoring his first goal of the season in the win over Southend United.

A fifth straight win in the league will see Hartlepool retain top spot in the division but a defeat will see the Spireites leapfrog Askey’s side to close out the opening month of the new season.