Crystal Palace 2-0 Hartlepool United: The key talking points as Pools hold heads high following spirited FA Cup exit

Hartlepool United can hold their heads high despite their FA Cup fourth round exit at Crystal Palace.

By Joe Ramage
Sunday, 6th February 2022, 1:02 pm

Graeme Lee’s side went down 2-0 to the Eagles but were able to offer a spirited display, particularly in the second half, to earn the applause of all four corners of Selhurst Park.

Marc Guehi and Michael Olise scored inside the opening 25 minutes as the tie looked ominous for Pools.

But Lee’s side rode their luck and might have made it an intriguing finale after testing Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland in the closing stages.

It was a day to savour for Hartlepool United supporters who sold-out the away end at Selhurst Park for the FA Cup fourth round tie with Crystal Palace. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

It’s been a remarkable run for Pools and here are some of the key talking points from Selhurst Park.

Setting the scene

There has been a tangible excitement around the Suit Direct Stadium ever since the full-time whistle blew and Pools secured victory over Blackpool in the third round.

The prospect of drawing a Premier League team was gripping, and while it may not have been a Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool, the way the preceding weeks have transpired, Pools wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Michael Olise was in fine form for Crystal Palace with a goal and an assist for Patrick Vieira's side against Hartlepool United. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The generosity and sincerity of Palace throughout the lead up to this FA Cup tie has been commendable.

In a game which so often draws an ‘us against them’ mentality, Palace have restored faith and made some of those blurred lines a little clearer with their gestures.

Subsidising travel

It had been well documented how the Premier League side had offered to subsidise travelling costs for Pools supporters making their journey to Selhurst Park and they made the most of the occasion with just under 5,000 in attendance.

Bryn Morris made his Hartlepool United debut in the FA Cup fourth round tie with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

There was a sea of blue and white packed out the away end long before the two teams emerged from the tunnel.

Pools supporters were keen to enjoy their Premier League excursion and decorated the city of London throughout the weekend in a dignified manner, letting everybody know just who ‘the blue and white army’ really are.

Lee’s team were met by a rapturous welcome upon heading out to do their warm-ups prior to the game before Gary Liddle led his teammates out into a cauldron of noise at Selhurst Park.

Donating

Even more significantly than helping to aid the travelling costs of supporters, Palace cemented a bond with Pools after their goodwill towards manager Lee.

The donation made, and awareness raised, to his wife, Gemma, and her fund for brain tumour treatment has been nothing short of exceptional.

Thanks to the Premier League side and its supporters, Gemma now has the funds for a year's supply of the drug which has helped to stabilise her condition since 2019.

This goes above, and way beyond, anything that transpired on the pitch at Selhurst Park.

There are levels of class within football and Palace have set the bar at an unprecedentedly high level.

Slow start

On the field however, it was the worst possible start for Lee’s side.

In the build-up to the game Lee had instructed his players to play the game and not the occasion but Pools barely had a kick in the opening exchanges as the Premier League side exhibited their class.

Four minutes was all it took for any thoughts of a giant killing to be calmed as Guehi cushioned home Olise’s freekick from the right.

While the decision to award the freekick was slightly contentious, Pools were sloppy in their marking and allowed Guehi almost the freedom of the penalty area to help the ball beyond Ben Killip.

And things got worse midway through the half as Pools invited Vieira’s side onto them through a short goal kick from Killip.

Conor Gallagher’s neat flick found Olise who was able to dribble inside of Timi Odusina and fire low into the bottom corner.

Olise was in glowing form all afternoon and might have found his name on the scoresheet multiple times had it not been for Killip.

But at that stage, 2-0 down inside 25 minutes, you feared the worst for Pools.

Spirited

But to their credit, in the second half Pools found some resilience and stood up to Palace.

Lee tweaked his formation with the introduction of Joe’s Grey and White and it allowed Pools to get further up the pitch and compete in the final third.

Luke Molyneux tested Butland as Jamie Sterry fired narrowly wide but it was the intensity of debutant Bryn Morris which really allowed Pools to get out of their own half.

Like most in blue and white, Morris struggled to cope with the sheer pace and physicality Palace displayed in the opening 45 minutes but the on-loan midfielder found his feet after the break and was part of a lot of the good Pools produced, including his own rasping effort from distance.

Lee has been like a broken record in stressing how his team need to reproduce their cup form in League Two and he is right to do so again here with the heart Pools showed in the second half.

A special occasion

Although the journey on the field has ended for Pools, the memory will last.

After such uncertainty around the club over recent years, and being outside of the Football League, to earn a moment like this is something that is not only deserved, but will be cherished.

Pools were always likely to lose this game and yet, and yet.

Captain Liddle stressed before the game they were not here for a day out, insisting it would be no good ‘having been spanked four, five, six nil.’

And in the end, they come away from Selhurst Park with masses of respect both on the field and off it.

At full-time each and every member of the Pools squad and staff headed over to applaud the supporters, something which was reciprocated unanimously.

It was a special moment for a club who have been through the mill. It was a moment to savour. It was a moment of hope. It was a moment for Hartlepool United.

Crystal Palace XI: Butland, Ward (Adaramola ‘86), Kelly, Guehi, Mitchell (Clyne ‘70), Milivojevic ©, Schlupp (Hughes ‘70), Gallagher, Olise, Mateta (Benteke ‘80), Eze (Edouard ‘70)

Subs: Guaita, Andersen, Ayew, Rak-Sakyi

Hartlepool United XI: Killip, Sterry, Byrne, Liddle © (White ‘60), Odusina, Ferguson (Fletcher ‘90), Morris, Shelton (Grey ‘60), Crawford (Holohan ‘82), Bogle (Cullen ‘90), Molyneux

Subs: Boyes, Ogle, Smith, Olomola

Referee: Peter Bankes

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