Graeme Lee prepared for reunion with former Middlesbrough striker as Hartlepool United travel to Harrogate Town

The talk in the run up to the game has focused on Harrogate Town striker Luke Armstrong ahead of appearing against his former club, a conversation which has even reached Graeme Lee at the petrol station.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 7:00 am

The Hartlepool United boss knows only too well of the threat posed by Armstrong owing to the time the pair spent together in the Middlesbrough academy.

Armstrong enjoyed a memorable loan spell with Pools last season and was integral to their return to the Football League having scored the opening goal in the promotion final against Torquay United, one of 15 goals for the club.

The 25-year-old would not return to the Suit Direct Stadium from his loan spell however, joining Harrogate in the summer from Salford City.

Luke Armstrong enjoyed a memorable spell with Hartlepool United during the 2020-21 campaign. Picture by FRANK REID

The former Boro academy star has scored 12 times for the Sulphurites this season but has scored just once in his last 13 games ahead of today’s meeting.

“I’ve worked with Luke at Middlesbrough and I’ve seen a lot of him. I bumped into him a couple of weeks ago at the petrol station, he doesn’t live too far from me, so there were a few nibbles in his ear there,” said Lee.

“Luke’s one of those players you love working with because he gives everything on the training field and in the game.

“And that’s what I keep saying about us, we have to make sure we match it and match that work ethic.

Luke Armstrong scored 15 times as Hartlepool United secured promotion back to the Football League last season. Picture by FRANK REID

“Luke is going to be a threat, we know that, and we’re going to have to be on our game.

“We’ve got to win our own individual battles and then help your mate win his individual battles first and foremost.

“I say it each week, it’s about earning that right to play and trying to stop the likes of Luke and his game and what he offers against us.

“It’s a challenge, but every team, and every game we play, have got these challenging forwards or midfielders wherever you are on the pitch.

“But if we’re up for it we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

Armstrong earned a warm reception from Pools supporters in the reverse fixture at the Suit Direct Stadium owing to his endeavours for the club last season.

But Pools fans will be hoping he has an off day with Harrogate just one point and one place below them in the table.

Simon Weaver’s side were held at home to Port Vale in midweek but Lee insists they still pose a big threat to Pools this afternoon.

“I just think it's the league we’re in at the moment. It’s a challenging league and you can get hurt switching off. It’s about that consistency,” said Lee.

“You look at the games we’ve won and there’s chances either way in the games and it’s that rub of the green. I’ve watched Harrogate and the work ethic is there.

“They’re exciting going forwards and have threats and score goals.

“They’ve had a great run earlier in the season but they’re still not far off, they’re getting a lot of draws at the moment but they’re still a threat.”

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