CUP FEVER – Hartlepool Utd take on Consett in Durham Challenge Cup

Sam Collins in action against Whitby Town.
Sam Collins in action against Whitby Town.

HARTLEPOOL United’s cup dreams appeared to be over after their heartbreaking late defeat at Coventry City.

But it is not the end of their interest in the knock-out competitions.

The club’s reserves still have serious aspirations of success in the Durham Challenge Cup with a second round trip to Consett tomorrow night (kick-off 7.30pm).

Reserve-team coach Sam Collins is looking to see his side prosper in the county tournament.

“We’d love to go all the way if possible,” said the experienced defender.

“It’s quite a tough competition and it sometimes depends on how strong a side you can put out.

“But the majority of teams we’ve fielded have been quite strong and we’ve had some good results.

“The lads are a good bunch and the attitude has been spot on.

“It’s quite tough at this stage of the season for the lads in the reserves because of the shortage of matches.

“We’ve been trying to get more games for the reserves so if we can get a good run in the Durham Cup that would be ideal.

“We’re trying to arrange other matches as well so we should have quite a few coming up.

“It would be great if we could have a game almost every week and it would be great benefit to the lads and the club.

“You can do all the training and even do extra stuff but there is no substitute for proper matches.

“It helps the reserve and young players and is important for any first team lads who may want a run out.

“But it’s just nice to be playing again and the lads are all looking forward to it.”

Consett represent a considerable step up from their first-round opponents Brandon United.

The Steelmen are moving along nicely in seventh in the top flight of the Ebac Northern League.

Consett are in something of a false position, given they have played only seven home games so far, travelling 19 times.

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But their new home 3-G artificial pitch at Belle View is now fully operational so they will be hopeful of making an impression at the very top of the table.

Consett will include ex-Pools forward Michael Mackay though they will be minus one-time Victoria Park stalwart Michael Barron.

The 2002-03 and 2006-07 promotion-winning skipper left Pools in the summer after a 16-year association with the club.

Consett resident Barron joined the Northern League club but an ankle injury will keep him out of tomorrow night’s tie.

Barron will possess a fair degree of inside knowledge on Pools but Collins is not unduly concerned.

“It will be great to see Micky again,” said Collins. “He pretty much knows everyone in the squad may be with the exception of Nialle Rodney.

“I’m sure he’ll be passing on bits of info to the Consett lads.

“But we are playing a totally different way now from what we used to before.”

Collins will be finalising his side today with boss Colin Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett and several players from the League Two squad could be involved at Belle View.

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