Hartlepool United suffer first defeat in pre-season after being edged out by League Two side

Hartlepool United lost for the first time in pre-season when they were narrowly edged out by League Two’s Harrogate Town.
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Hartlepool met Harrogate on four occasions last season having been drawn with the Sulphurites in both the EFL Trophy and the FA Cup – Pools winning both cup fixtures but taking just one point from six in the two league meetings.

And the North Yorkshire side made the trip to the Suit Direct Stadium on Friday as John Askey’s side stepped up their preparations ahead of the new National League season.

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Despite a positive start from Hartlepool, however, it was the Football League side who took the lead as former Pools striker Luke Armstrong met a deep cross to just about slide the ball beyond Joel Dixon in goal.

Antony Sweeney admits there were positives and negatives for Hartlepool United in their pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REIDAntony Sweeney admits there were positives and negatives for Hartlepool United in their pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Antony Sweeney admits there were positives and negatives for Hartlepool United in their pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REID

Simon Weaver’s side turned things up a notch after the restart but it was Pools who would this time score against the run of play as Anthony Mancini, fresh from agreeing a permanent deal earlier in the week, found the bottom corner with a smart finish from the edge of the area.

The second half played out with a number of changes from both sides before Harrogate substitute Abraham Odoh found the bottom corner nine minutes from time.

It represents Hartlepool’s first defeat in pre-season but first team coach Antony Sweeney believes there were plenty of positives to take ahead of the new National League campaign.

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Anthony Mancini scored in Hartlepool United's pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REIDAnthony Mancini scored in Hartlepool United's pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Anthony Mancini scored in Hartlepool United's pre-season defeat to Harrogate Town. Picture by FRANK REID
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"You want to get into winning habits so we’re disappointed that we got beat, you never like to lose games, but there is a bigger picture in pre-season,” said Sweeney.

"It’s for fitness and working on little bits you work on in training so there were things that were a positive, there was also stuff that we need to get better at.”

He added: “We knew in the schedule this was going to be the game that will probably be closest to what we’ll come up against throughout the 46 game season.

"I thought in the first half there were times where we got on the front foot and we got into good areas and probably the final ball was the missing piece.

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"But we looked a threat in attacking areas, we looked as though we could counter teams in transitions and things like that and we were relatively comfortable at the back for large periods.

"But we didn’t deal with a long ball forward and we allowed the ball into our box and we didn’t get the first contact in our box. It doesn’t matter which team you play against, or what level you’re at, if you do them three things in games the chances are there’s going to be a shot on goal and from a close distance, which it was. So we’re disappointed with that.

"The second half it’s always a little bit disjointed. There’s loads of subs, there’s changes in shape to accommodate those subs, so a little bit as the game went on you take less focus from that, but there were positives at times.”