Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor explains signing of former AFC Fylde left-back Zaine Francis-Angol and why Boreham Wood allowed him to join permanently

Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor bolstered his squad with a player who has ‘been there and done it’ at National League level in Zaine Francis-Angol.

The 27-year-old left-back arrived at Pools last week straight after departing Boreham Wood by mutual consent – signing a permanent deal at Victoria Park until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

It’s the second time Francis-Angol has worked under Pools boss Dave Challinor. The pair enjoyed two successful seasons in the National League together at AFC Fylde, with two play-off campaigns, a play-off final and an FA Trophy win.

But since leaving The Coasters in 2019, the London born Antigua and Barbuda international has found game time hard to come by.

Zaine Francis-Angol of AFC Fylde during the Vanarama National League Play Off Final between AFC Fylde and Salford City at Wembley Stadium on May 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

He made five appearances for Accrington Stanley in League One last season before returning to the National League with Boreham Wood. Francis-Angol started 10 league games for The Wood this campaign, including the 2-1 win at Victoria Park back in December – Pools’ last defeat at Victoria Park.

Following a run of three substitute cameos in 10 league games, the defender was placed on furlough and unable to play for Boreham Wood with his contract at Meadow Park originally set to expire in the summer.

But then Pools came knocking.

"Ever since Zaine left Fylde and jumped up to Accrington, it’s been a bit stop-start for him,” Challinor told The Mail.

“Even going to Boreham Wood, the way they play their system is to play a more forward player as a left wing-back so he hasn’t been playing as much as he would have wanted.

"With a lot of clubs at the moment, they look at situations and try to balance the books a little bit to get rid of players they maybe don’t need.

"Zaine was looking towards next season and Boreham Wood had already made a decision on him and put him on furlough so rather than that, he’s cancelled his contract and is a great one for us.”

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Francis-Angol’s arrival will provide some much-needed left-back cover for David Ferguson, who has been instrumental for Pools so far this season.

The former Sunderland and York City left-back has a goal and nine assists to his name in all competitions this season and has played every minute for the club so far in 2021.

The starting left-back position will not be an easy one for Francis-Angol to take off Ferguson at the moment but Challinor is pleased to be able to rely on a player with play-off experience when needed.

"It’s already good in these situations to be able to bring in players that you know, especially ones who have been there and done it with an understanding of the scenario we’re in at the moment,” added the Pools boss.

“Zaine will back himself to be good enough to get into our team and gives us really good options down that left side.

"It’s the one place we didn’t have natural cover if anything did happen to Fergie. He’s been a mainstay throughout the season and hopefully that will continue but it gives us really good competition and options.”

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