Four-midable Pools beat Welsh opposition in fine comeback
A half-time team talk can make all the difference and it certainly did for Pools in this 1998 clash with Swansea City.
The teams went in level 1-1 at the break, but Swansea could have had the tie won in the first 45 if they had taken their chances.
But it was a different story after the interval as Pools came back to take all three points.
New boy Craig Midgley was in the home team’s starting 11 and there was a further boost for Pools when Tommy Miller passed a late fitness test.
But both Ian Clark and Denny Ingram were missing through suspension. Graeme Lee returned and was pushed into the centre forward role.
Midgley made an early impression on the crowd when he “showed promise when he burst through but lost control”, said the Hartlepool Mail reporter at the time.
But despite early pressure, it was Swansea who opened the scoring when Watkin met a 12-minute cross. His close-range effort trickled into Hollund’s net.
It was a goal that looked likely after a period of Swansea pressure which included Alsop volleying just wide of the home goal.
It wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Pools had their own first shot on target.
However, the 20-yard attempt from Chris Beech lacked enough pace to test the visiting keeper.
For Pools, though, their increasing involvement in the game paid off just before half time when a long ball from Barron found Halliday unmarked and he managed to chip the keeper for his fifth goal of the season.
Pool started the second half as if they really meant business and that determination paid off on the 48th minute.
A Midgley cross from the left was met by Lee who rammed home a 20-yard effort.
Swansea were not done and they levelled two minutes later when Pools failure to clear the ball left Keith Walker with an opportunity to smash in a shot from ten yards.
The fast-changing match swung Pools’ way again on 55 minutes when Midgley floated in a dangerous cross and Lee got to it with a thumping header which hit the post. The referee decided it had cross the line.
This time, Pools kept up the momentum and forced two more corners but Swansea were equal to the pressure.
But the home team got their fourth of the game when, in the 63rd minute, Knowles sent in a low cross and Beech was there to latch on to it.
He turned and slotted the ball home for his fifth goal of the season.