Hartlepool ready for the real thing after final warm-up game

Pools in action at Whitley Bay.
Pools in action at Whitley Bay.

Hartlepool United so far – marks out of 10?

Probably only when we are at the back end of September will be able to fully judge the merits of Craig Harrison’s revolution at Victoria Park.

But if pressed to give a score now on Harrison and Pools, you would have to say a strong seven, possibly an eight.

Pools completed their pre-season programme on Saturday with their first draw of the summer.

The 1-1 result at Whitley Bay – a fair outcome you’d have to say overall – ensured the friendly record was an even one with three wins, three defeats and the one draw.

Harrison was shedding no tears at Hillheads at the inability to beat the Northern League outfit.

Pools began with only five senior men, none of whom had yet played 90 minutes, while one of them was filling in at centre-half.

Two players were teenagers, not long out of youth team football, and the other four were trialists.

Add all the factors into the equation and Whitley Bay 1 Pools 1 is hardly cause to ring the Samaritans.

Harrison wanted game-time for Jake Cassidy, Liam Donnelly, Nicky Featherstone, Luke George and Devante Rodney, all of whom have missed significant amounts of pre-season action.

Cassidy and Donnelly both completed 90 minutes, Featherstone 75, George 45 and Rodney got a quarter of an hour, his first football since his two-goal blast against Doncaster at the start of May.

Rodney will need more miles on the clock before he can play in the National League, but Casidy and Donnelly will be candidates for the 16-man squad to face Dover Athletic, while Featherstone and George, even if they don’t feature this Saturday, they will be required at some point of a gruelling first month of the season.

Harrison wanted to cast his eye over a quartet of trialists in a game and admitted afterwards that he will be making a decision on them, very soon.

The Pools boss admits he wants/needs a couple more players for the assault on the National League and feels he has seen enough of Kosovar Sadiki, Lewis Maloney, Junior Mondal and Jon Franks in games and training to carry out those decisions.

Each have had their moments and, in the case of Franks, his previous record would come into play.

Pools do need a central defender and Sadiki looks very good raw material, but the Canada U23 centre-back was not overly-convincing at Whitley Bay.

Maloney produced a wonderful finish early on and was always hungry for the ball, but some of his passing was wayward.

Mondal has displayed some nice touches, has pace and a left foot, but has he shown enough to get an extended stay?

Franks relished getting at defenders and pulling the trigger, but he has not played any football in pre-season so needs more time.

In fact, ideally you would want more time to see them again and again but Harrison says he needs to choose now, out of fairness to club and player.

Fans and members of the fourth estate only get to judge from what we see on the field and this reporter would be reluctant to invest.

But Harrison has forgotten more this SportMail writer will ever know and given his signing record thus far, should be trusted in those verdicts.

Maloney, a former Northern Ireland U21 international, had not been seen in a Pools jersey, but what an introduction he made on Saturday.

Receiving the ball outside the box in the seventh minute, he let fly from 25 yards, his brilliant low shot beating Tom Flynn in his right corner.

It set the tone for a bright first-half for Pools, who could have been out of sight.

Cassidy was a handful for the home defence and he drew a super save from Flynn who also made diving stops from Franks and Mondal.

And when Flynn was beaten, Callum Patton was there to clear off line from Cassidy, following a breathtaking piece of skill in the box by Deverdics, which deserved a goal.

Whitley Bay had their moments in the first half.

Young keeper Ryan Catterick produced a fine save after Pools gifted Peter Glen-Ravenhill free access on goal.

If this had not been a friendly, Sadiki would have been testing the temperature of the showers in the 37th minute when he felled Alex Kempster as the last man after he lost the ball. He stayed on the park and saw Kyle Patton put the free-kick over the wall but also over the bar.

After the break, Franks hit the far post with cross from the right while Flynn then came out smartly to collect the ball before Mondal could pounce.

But the Northern League outfit were level eight minutes into the second half when half-time sub Jacob Owen, who had replaced George, conceded a penalty for bringing down striker Kyle Patton.

Midfielder Callum Patton stepped forward and stroked the spot-kick into the keeper’s bottom-left corner with Catterick diving the opposite way.

Pools came back and Flynn produced a flying save to tip over a Cassidy header from a Deverdics cross, only for the referee to give a goal-kick.

Whitley Bay were finishing the stronger and Thibault Charmey missed a decent chance from Kempter’s cross when he failed to keep his shot down.

And eight minutes from time, Catterick made a cracking save low to his left from sub Matt Cornish’s drive from outside the box.

Rodney had a chance to win it a minute from time when he was given the ball from a home mistake but, probably not expecting to receive an opportunity, was denied by defender Calum Anderson’s last-ditch tackle. But a draw was a fair result - now for the real thing.

Whitley Bay: Flynn, Byerley, Hall, C Patton (Haley 68), Wilkinson, Anderson, Potter (Jasper 64), Charmey, K Patton (Cornish 64), Kempster (Cunningham 85), Glen-Ravenhill. Unused Subs: Williams, Summers. Goal C Patton (pen) 53

Pools: Catterick, Donnelly, George (Owen 46), Sadiki, Richardson, Featherstone (Rodney 76), Maloney, Deverdics, Mondal, Franks (Blackford 73)

Unused Subs: Halliday, Copper, Weir, Orrell, Simpson. Goal: Maloney 7

Ref: Alex Clarke Att: 403