Hartlepool United 3-1 Barrow: Pools relegated despite win over nine-man Barrow

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Hartlepool United’s relegation from the Football League was confirmed despite their come-from-behind win over nine-man Barrow.

Hartlepool’s return to the Football League lasted just two-years, a far cry from the 96-years the enjoyed prior to their relegation in 2017, as a truly miserable and mistake-ridden season ended in the most heartbreaking manner for supporters.

Jack Hamilton, Jamie Sterry and Connor Jennings each scored to cancel out Ged Garner’s opener as Pools held up their end of the bargain at the Suit Direct Stadium.

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They would do so with relative ease in the end after the Bluebirds saw two men sent off in the second half.

Jack Hamilton draws Hartlepool United level against Barrow at the Suit Direct Stadium. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)Jack Hamilton draws Hartlepool United level against Barrow at the Suit Direct Stadium. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Jack Hamilton draws Hartlepool United level against Barrow at the Suit Direct Stadium. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Harrison Neal picked up two yellow cards in quick succession before Patrick Brough was dismissed in stoppage time.

But all of that was immaterial as Crawley Town did what they had to do with Hartlepool condemned back to non-league football.

Askey had suggested that stranger things had happened than the permutations required for Hartlepool to stay in the division but it seemed unlikely, as shown by a somewhat depleted Suit Direct Stadium turnout.

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Where a week ago this famous old stadium was jumping with encouragement and hope, here portrayed, very much, an end of season vibe.

Jamie Sterry's cross beat everyone to give Hartlepool United the lead against Barrow. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)Jamie Sterry's cross beat everyone to give Hartlepool United the lead against Barrow. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Jamie Sterry's cross beat everyone to give Hartlepool United the lead against Barrow. (Photo: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Askey held firm to his word of looking at his squad and those who ‘want to be at the football club’ when making three changes from the defeat to Crawley as Mohamad Sylla, Dan Kemp and Josh Umerah were all left out.

Umerah was on the bench, which only included six substitutes as the likes of Wes McDonald and Oliver Finney found themselves as surprise omissions while Sylla and Kemp were not involved at all - Kemp, it’s believed, to have picked up a slight injury.

In their place came Hamilton, Nicky Featherstone and Tom Crawford, who was making his first start since October.

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Hartlepool knew what was required of them at kick-off. They needed to win at all costs and hope for a favour some 300-miles away.

And Askey’s side started reasonably well with Jennings heading over from Sterry’s inviting cross before Jennings would then receive nothing from referee Simon Mather following a coming together with Neal in the area.

But any slight positives to the opening stages soon fizzled out as the game felt like it went through the motions somewhat.

Crawford went into a crunching challenge with Robbie Gotts which stirred the crowd a little, but what they craved, chances and goals, were in short supply.

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Barrow arrived in the North East with their season effectively over with Pete Wild’s side unable to reach the play-offs and their first 20 minutes certainly felt that way.

And yet with their first real effort at goal they took the lead.

Hartlepool failed to deal with a long-throw into the area as Garner was able to force the ball out wide to Tom White on the left. He slipped a ball inside to Josh Gordon who was able to find half-a-yard on Dan Dodds to cross low into the six-yard box where Garner was on hand to guide home in between Matt Dolan and Edon Pruti.

It felt somewhat typical of the ease with which teams have been able to convert against Hartlepool this season, with their fight all but over at that stage.

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Things might have got worse through their own doing as Callum Cooke floated a careless ball back towards Dodds which sold the defender short in allowing Gordon to intercept.

Gordon looked to have a run on goal only for Dodds to recover well.

Askey’s side worked their best move of the first half when switching from right to left before Cooke would tee up Crawford on the edge of the area, the midfielder dragging wide.

Garner was a player on Hartlepool’s radar in January and he almost doubled Barrow’s lead when he met Ben Whitfield’s cross from the right before steering over at the near post.

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Garner sent an effort off target again soon after as Pools struggled to deal with Sam McClelland’s cross.

Hartlepool kept things interesting, at least, going into the break as they found a route back into the game.

Dolan brought the ball a long way out of defence before exchanging passes on the left to pick up David Ferguson’s cross.

He was able to control ahead of his man and showed great persistence to force across goal where Hamilton was on hand to lift over the diving Paul Farman into the roof of the net.

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Pruti headed over from Cooke’s corner on the stroke of half-time as both Hartlepool and Crawley went in level at the interval.

The second would start just as flat as what large periods of the first half were from both teams before things sparked into life around the hour mark.

Hartlepool had Jakub Stolarczyk to thank for keeping the scores level when making a big save to deny Gordon.

Gordon saw a clear sight of goal from Whitfield’s clever reverse ball but the Leicester City man spread himself well to save.

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Immediately at the other end and Hartlepool might have taken the lead as Ferguson met a through ball ahead of the on-rushing Farman but his cross was cleared at the near post with Hamilton waiting for a tap in.

Cooke had Farman at full-stretch to his right with a curling effort which took a slight deflection on its way.

And from the resulting corner Hamilton should have put Hartlepool in front when heading wide from six-yards.

Ferguson found sight of goal again following a positive move involving a lung-busting run from Dodds and Jennings but was again ushered out.

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Hartlepool’s impetus would pay off, though, as they took the lead through Sterry.

The former Newcastle United man may be one of those who was featuring for the last time at the Suit Direct Stadium but he handed his side a flicker of hope when his in-swinging cross bounced right the way through and beat Farman into the far corner.

Hartlepool had the spring in their step with that goal and looked the more likely to add to that lead with Barrow offering little in the way of resistance.

And the task was made slightly easier when Neal was given his marching orders 10 minutes from time after picking up two yellow cards in the space of five minutes, the second of which came following a robust challenge on Ferguson with both players fully committed.

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Hartlepool had 10 minutes to uphold their part of the bargain and hope for a favour from Walsall.

And they would hold up their end of the deal as, not long after Cooke curled off the bar, Jennings powered in a third to seal victory for Askey’s side.

Tensions boiled over as Barrow ended the game with another man sent off after Brough was dismissed following a confrontation with Cooke.

But despite doing their bit this week, Crawley held on for the point they needed against Walsall to confirm Hartlepool’s relegation from the Football League as a future of troubled uncertainty may now await.

Hartlepool United XI: Stolarzyk, Sterry, Dodds, Dolan, Pruti, Ferguson, Featherstone, Crawford, Cooke, Jennings, Hamilton (Umerah ‘86)

Subs: Killip, Foran, Darcy, Kiernan, Grey

Barrow: Farman ,McClelland, Ray (Young ‘76), Canavan ©, Brough, Neal, Gotts, White (Warren ‘66), Garner (Kay ‘62), Gordon, Whitfield (Newby ‘66)

Subs: Taylor, Smales-Braithwaite

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 4,551 (338 Barrow)

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