Graeme Lee praised the impact of substitutes Tom Crawford and Joe Grey as Hartlepool United seal a dramatic late win over Rochdale in League Two

Graeme Lee hailed the impact of substitutes Tom Crawford and Joe Grey after Hartlepool United secured a late win over Rochdale at the Suit Direct Stadium.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 4:45 pm

Pools had fought back in the game having fell behind to a neatly taken goal from Josh Andrews 10 minutes into the second half when Mark Cullen capitalised on a pinpoint pass from Mark Shelton.

Cullen was able to take the deftest of touches to control the ball after Max Taylor had missed a headed interception before firing low beyond Jay Lynch in the Rochdale goal.

But as the game became frantic in the final quarter of an hour, Lee turned to his bench and brought on Crawford and Grey who each had instant impacts in the game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Tom Crawford and Joe Grey came off the bench to help inspire Graeme Lee's Hartlepool United to victory over Rochdale. Picture by FRANK REID

Crawford replaced Huddersfield Town loan man Matty Daly and allowed Pools to regain a foothold in midfield with his composure and forward thinking on the ball.

The 22-year-old was at the heart of most things for Pools in the final 13 minutes, something which was aided by the introduction of Grey for Cullen five minutes from time.

Grey immediately burst into life and charged at the Dale defence from halfway, winning a corner before trying his luck from range soon after.

And the pair linked up in stoppage time as Crawford got away down the left and was able to slip the ball into Luke Molyneux’s path and his strike deflected kindly for Shelton to tap home from six yards.

Mark Cullen grabbed an excellent equaliser for Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

Lee was quick to point out the discussion he had with Grey following the teenager's omission from Saturday's FA Cup squad, and he was just as keen to praise the youngster, along with Crawford, for their roles in Pools’ victory on Wednesday night.

“I knew he’d come on and make an impact with his little bit of sharp pace,” Lee told The Mail of Grey.

“We asked him to play on the left in training just for our little match prep and he was taking everyone on, so as soon as I saw that little glimpse I knew he could have an impact.

“When the game got stretched a little bit it was about his fresh legs and how we could hurt them. They were pushing a little bit and getting carried away and we knew we had that little bit if we got in the right positions to hurt them.

“We knew as much as they might dominate the ball if we won the ball in the right areas we had a chance, so you don’t want to just sit off and protect it.

“I think we did that at Lincoln a little bit but we were solid and didn’t get broken down.

“You want to win the game and I just thought the lads who came on, you knew they were going to do the same job or improve the team at that time because they were fresh. They both came on and showed that.

“I think Crawford is very unfortunate he hasn’t been in the starting line-up, that’s just the way it worked.

“I started with Shelts and Shelts has been fantastic [since I came in]. But you’ve got people pushing for opportunities and Crawford came on and impacted the game in a great way and so did Joe.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor.