Liam Kennedy's Hartlepool analysis: National League high for Pools - but perspective is needed

Hartlepool United have never been in a higher position in the National League. Just let that sink in for a second.

Pools were seen as a big fish in a very small pond when they dropped out of the Football League for the first time in their long, proud history.

As we all know, things did not go to plan last season.

Recruitment was poor, the start was even worse and then the bottom fell out of the club financially.


And while Craig Harrison did get his team’s act together around September, October time - Pools never ever managed to get their nose into the play-off mix. They were very close at points, but never in the top seven.

Liam Noble

Liam Noble

After four wins out of four, and one loss in eight, Matthew Bates’ rebooted Pools have done what Harrison’s team could not.

And while last season’s struggles were a shock for many, this time around it has come as no surprise Bates & Co are flying high, just a win (potentially) away from muscling their way to the summit of the National League table.

The only people it will surprise is the bookies - many of whom had Pools priced at more than 20/1 to win the fifth tier title.

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Well, Pools odds have come tumbling down in recent weeks and with good reason.

Only a handful of teams have lost just the once or less from the first eight. Even less have won more than Bates’ boys.

Pools are a team on the rise, who look capable of scoring against anyone and have options not only in their team, but on the bench and even left out of the matchday 16.

It was their talismanic leader who proved the difference on the day, down at Westleigh Park.

How did Hartlepool United's players rate against Havant & Waterlooville? Liam Kennedy's gives his views

Liam Noble does things his way. I’ve mentioned if before I will again - he very much reminds me of a non league version of someone like Jonjo Shelvey, of Noble’s won beloved Newcastle United.

He sees passes not many at this level even would even consider and he delivers them with the accuracy of players divisions higher up the food chain.

The build up to the winner is case in point.

Few would have the vision to see Mark Kitching’s run, less would be able to find him. Noble did both with ease, and ultimately it proved to be the game’s turning point.

While there’s much to be positive about there also has to be a bit of perspective.

We are only eight games in and nothing is won at this time of the season.

Only a matter of time before Hartlepool United win big – Nicky Featherstone

Things can be lost, though. And Pools did just that this time last year, when they were playing catch up from the very start.

One thing to be wary of is that Pools have played five of the bottom seven, or six of the bottom eight.

The only two teams struggling at the back end of the division who are yet to face Pools are Aldershot (29/09) and Dover Athetic (24/11).

This is, of course, means little at this stage of the season. Macclesfield are the example of that, given that they did not really start their assault on the top half of the division until well after the leaves turned brown.

Eight games in and things look rosy, but this is nothing more than a healthy start.

Pools have given themselves a solid platform on which to build. And build they must, starting on Tuesday against Barrow.