Doncaster Rovers 0-1 Hartlepool United: 'Super Danny Dodds,' a key impact and a fresh start - takeaways from Pools win

Hartlepool United made the perfect post-January transfer window start with a late victory over Doncaster Rovers.
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Dan Dodds capped a swift counter-attack when firing in off the post from range in front of a jubilant away following for a result Keith Curle insisted his side needed.

Curle included all 11 of his January recruits in his squad at the Eco-Power Stadium, eight of them in the starting line-up, including debuts for Jakub Stolarczyk, Oliver Finney, Dan Kemp and Connor Jennings.

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Pools were promising in spells of possession but would have to wait until late in the game before earning what could be an invaluable three points come the end of the season.

Dan Kemp made a bright start to his Hartlepool United career on debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )Dan Kemp made a bright start to his Hartlepool United career on debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )
Dan Kemp made a bright start to his Hartlepool United career on debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )

And here are some of the key takeaways from Hartlepool’s win in South Yorkshire.

Super Danny Dodds

Dodds has only made five appearances for Hartlepool but already looks like a fine piece of business with supporters already serenading him from the terraces.

The former Middlesbrough man showed superb pace in the closing stages to lead a one-man Hartlepool counter-attack as he latched onto Josh Umerah’s clever reverse ball.

Dan Dodds has impressed for Hartlepool United following his switch from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )Dan Dodds has impressed for Hartlepool United following his switch from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )
Dan Dodds has impressed for Hartlepool United following his switch from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )
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Dodds had the beating of Ro-Shaun Williams before taking aim and firing in off the post beyond the outstretched Jonathan Mitchell.

Post-match, however, Dodds was keen to stress the importance of gaining a clean sheet over his personal accolade of being match winner as the 22-year-old continues to go from strength-to-strength in the early stages of his Pools career.

Visually, Dodds has taken to life in League Two well, following a successful loan spell with Darlington in non-league. But statistically, too, Dodds is impressing.

In his five games, Dodds has not been below second when it comes to the player most involved for Hartlepool.

Connor Jennings was one of several players making their Hartlepool United debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )Connor Jennings was one of several players making their Hartlepool United debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )
Connor Jennings was one of several players making their Hartlepool United debut against Doncaster Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News )
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Against Doncaster, as per Wyscout, Dodds had 74 total actions in the game - the most alongside Edon Pruti, whilst adding an excellent goal to his name.

Against Colchester United, Dodds had more touches than any Pools player (90), likewise against Rochdale (76) where he also earned man of the match and had a hand in Hartlepool’s second goal.

On the occasions Dodds has not been the most involved player, he was second to Rollin Menayese at Carlisle United when subbed off 15 minutes from time and he was second to David Ferguson at Gillingham on his league debut when playing the first 45 minutes as a left centre-back.

In Dodds’ final five appearances for Darlington, the defender averaged 71.4 actions per game, as per Wyscout.

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Contrast that with his first five starts for Hartlepool in the EFL, he has averaged 74.8 actions per game which suggests he is making the step up more than comfortably.

Dan Dodds-Jamie Sterry-Dan Kemp

If we are to continue eulogising over Dodds, then we should also consider the impact of Jamie Sterry and Kemp who occupied the right side of the field with Dodds at Doncaster.

The first half, in particular, showed a synergy well beyond just three days of work on the training ground since Kemp’s deadline day arrival.

Dodds, defensively, was organised well by Sterry to his outside, and Peter Hartley to his inside, something which he confessed to being the perfect learning curve.

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“They’ve been key with the way I've come in,” Dodds told The Mail.

“I couldn’t have come in with better lads around me and now with Dan coming in, it was just me and Jamie down the right, but now with Dan it breaks things up and hopefully it can kick on and we can keep improving.”

Dodds, as the right-sided centre-back, had already shown signs of promise in tandem with Sterry, but adding the agile Kemp into the mix was a pleasing boost for Hartlepool.

The MK Dons loanee was heavily involved in the first half, teeing up the best chance for Tayt Trusty when exchanging brilliantly with Sterry.

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It was a theme which continued and is one that, based on first showing, could hold a lot of potential for Curle over the remainder of the campaign.

“It’s not bad, is it? They can all play ball,” Curle told The Mail when commenting on the trio.

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A more confident Hartlepool United?

As the home team, you would have expected the onus to have been on Doncaster to force the issue against a Hartlepool, perhaps, low on confidence.

Instead, Curle’s side stroked the ball around with the kind of confidence we haven’t seen much of this season, maintaining a high level of possession in the opening quarter of an hour.

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Dodds and Pruti stepped out well from centre-back, Sterry and Ferguson operated almost as third and fourth wingers such was their position on the field whilst Finney occupied clever spaces in the final third off of Jennings.

Although there will need to be more to come in the final third, there seemed to be a little more confidence and composure throughout the team at the Eco-Power Stadium.

Josh Umerah’s impact

It’s a fair assumption that keeping hold of Umerah was Hartlepool’s best business on deadline day.

The striker has been key to Hartlepool remaining in the hunt for survival this season so when he was not involved in the starting line-up at Doncaster there were more than a few concerns before it was revealed he had been dealing with illness.

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Curle suggested: “Josh could have started but he wouldn’t have been right and that’s not fair on Josh or the rest of the team when we’ve got players available chomping at the bit.

“I loved the desire that he wanted to play, but he was honest and professional enough to say ‘I can't train’ because it’s going to empty me.

“So it was a case of doing the right thing by Josh and if I can use you for 20 minutes, excellent.”

And Curle did just that, bringing Umerah into the action just after the hour at a critical point in the game when the home side were probing.

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Harrison Biggins and Caolan Lavery had both gone close with Doncaster in the ascendancy.

Hartlepool, in that respect, needed Umerah’s introduction. It lifted the supporters and it lifted the players on the pitch as he was immediately involved when linking with Jennings and Ferguson to win a corner.

And Umerah played a vital part in the goal with a smart reverse ball into the path of Dodds who would go on and do the rest.

A fresh start for Hartlepool United?

Heading into the game it felt like a real line in the sand moment for Hartlepool.

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The first half of the season has been and gone, and we all know how poor it has been.

But with 11 new additions in the transfer window, whether they were all first options or not, this is something of a new-look Hartlepool heading into the final months of the campaign.

And to be able to start that process with a win - in the manner this one came in the closing stages in front of a big away following, felt significant.

We have been here before when it comes to Hartlepool backing up results and performances, but if this relatively new group of players can hit the ground running, as we saw signs of at Doncaster, then they could yet give themselves a chance.

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