Hartlepool United momentum gathers force

Ryan Donaldson. New signing. Picture courtesy of HUFC
Ryan Donaldson. New signing. Picture courtesy of HUFC

Craig Harrison feels his Hartlepool United drive is gathering momentum.

The boss has clinched what he feels are five key signings for a promotion push from the National League, with attacking midfielder Ryan Donaldson his newest addition.

We’ve brought in five very good players and that creates a positive mood squad-wise

CRAIG HARRISON

And Harrison sealed another vital piece of his Pools jigsaw yesterday by getting experienced defender Carl Magnay to extend his stay at Victoria Park.

“I do feel the momentum is building,” he said. “When you have a huge positive movement, it is a really powerful tool.

“There was a long period between Hartlepool’s relegation and the club appointing a manager.

“It created a void when nothing happened, so, after I came in, it was important that we got to work quickly.

“We’ve brought in five very good players and that creates a positive mood squad-wise for the start of pre-season and then it’s down to us to create a positive scenario for the fans for the start of the season.”

The capture of Donaldson on a free transfer looks an outstanding piece of work by the 39-year-old.

Ex-Newcastle forward Donaldson was snapped up following his release by Plymouth Argyle, whom he helped to promotion to League One last season, making 33 appearances and scoring five goals.

But it is his record in the National League which produces perhaps the most pertinent stats.

He scored eight goals at Gateshead in his season at the International Stadium, following his departure from his beloved Magpies, earning him a move to Conference rivals Cambridge United.

Donaldson inspired the U’s to clinch promotion in 2014, ironically against his former club in the play-off final at Wembley, where his goal sealed victory.

“He has played well for teams who have gone up, not just his time at Cambridge, but he’s just won promotion from League Two with Plymouth,” said Harrison.

“Ryan knows what it takes to win and having someone with that winning mentality at the club is fantastic.

“He is still only 26 and I think his best years are still in front of him.

“We’ve done well to a get a player in who is coming into his prime years.”

All five of the Harrison quintet have experience in the National League. Keeper Scott Loach spent a loan stint at York last season, midfielder Luke George skippered both Southport and Chester in the division, attacker Jack Munns won the NL title with Cheltenham and forward Jake Cassidy scored eight goals for Guiseley.

“Ryan is another attacking option we’ve got, along with Jack and Jake,” said the former TNS manager who told SportMail of his desire to make two further permanent acquisitions.

“Luke is a bit of a destroyer and we signed Scott in goal, so we have got a good balance of signings so far.

“We are looking to bring two more in, definitely one, ahead of the start of pre-season on the 26th.

“I’m delighted Carl has put pen to paper and I’m hoping Rhys Oates and Brad Walker will re-sign.

“Carl has lots of experience of what is needed in this league so him staying was fantastic for the club.”