Hartlepool United analysis: We’ve never had it so good ... not for a few years

Striker Scott Fenwick scores his goal against Newport County. Picture by FRANK REID
Striker Scott Fenwick scores his goal against Newport County. Picture by FRANK REID

Pretty? It was not.

But life is looking pretty damn good for Hartlepool United following last night’s win over Newport County.

It’s about putting the ball in the opposition net and keeping it out of your own


Three games into the season and Pools sit third in the League Two, unbeaten on nine points.

On the old videprinter, 9 would be written as NINE because viewers would think it was a mistake.

Throw in the Capital One Cup upset at Fleetwood last Tuesday and Pools have won four in a row – the best start to the season since Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister (in 1957).

It was the Earl of Stockton who said that Britain have “never had it so good” and that quote might just apply to Poolies given the depression which surrounded the place until relatively recently.

These are indeed heady days, especially when you think that the fourth win of last season did not arrive until November 8.

It took 19 matches for Pools to win four times and under Ronnie Moore and Sam Collins, the class of 2015-16 have done it in four!

As Ronnie Moore says on the back page of today’s Mail, it is early days.

Of course, he’s right, how can you argue with a bloke who took the club, shook by the neck and saved it.

But it’s hard NOT to get carried away.

When this reporter was a bit younger and lighter, you’d go to Vic on matchday to have a laugh with your mates and if Pools won that was a bonus.

Then Chris Turner, Mike Newell and Neale Cooper came along and suddenly you turned up expecting wins AND entertainment.

In recent years, all we’ve witnessed has been decay.

While the wow factor of the early noughties might not be there yet, the expectation and anticipation level is beginning to return.

Moore and Sam Collins have re-built the team and restored the club’s pride and ambition.

Would the Pools of the first half of last season have beaten Newport County? Probably not.

Would the old Pools have won at York City? Definitely not.

Did Pools deserve to win both matches?

On the balance of play, rival managers Terry Butcher and Ross Wilcox may argue that they didn’t.

But, ultimately, it’s about putting the ball in the opposition net and keeping it out of your own. Pools have done just that and found the knack of winning.

Long may that continue.

To say they were given the runaround by Newport would be a little exaggeration.

But the young Welsh side fielded by ex-England defender Butcher, looked a good footballing side who passed and moved well. Certainly better than Pools in the first half.

The opening 45 minutes made for quite uncomfortable viewing – Pools tried to play football, but nothing they tried came off and they continually squandered possession.

They had just two shots – Rakish Bingham firing wide from outside the area and Michael Woods hitting the top of the Rink End stand from a free-kick.

Newport had the better of the play but Adam Bartlett – like Joe Day at the other end – wasn’t over-worked though he had to be on his toes.

The closest we came to seeing a goal was when Pools almost paid the price for watching Newport pass ball the about unhindered, Mark Byrne’s shot from 20 yards just clearing the bar.

While the second half did constitute a transformation, Pools were certainly more effective.

Pools took the lead in the 51st minute in brilliant fashion, though, courtesy of Scott Fenwick.

The striker took the ball 30 yards out and powered forward, unleashing a stunning right-foot shot from the edge of the area which thundered into Day’s top left corner.

Fenwick had a couple of attempts with his left boot which found Morrison’s car park, but at least he was getting into the right positions and Pools were creating chances.

Pools were almost two up in the 64th minute when Bingham spun defender Scott Barrow from Carroll’s up and under, drawing a good save from Day.

Newport remained very much in it and Regan Poole put a free header over and Bartlett saved well from an Aaron Collins piledriver

The best chances though were still Pools’ and Billy Paynter will have been frustrated not to have made it four goals in four games eight minutes from time.

Paynter and Woods got in each other’s way in the Town End box and while the skipper did manage to get control of the ball and make some room for himself, he saw defender Poole clear off the line and Day gather the rebound.

But Pools held on. Perhaps not quite a case of “you’ve never had it so good” but the good days are on their way back.