An old favourite returned - and what a battle this one was for Pools
What a great way to get back in the promotion hunt.
Hartlepool United fought their way to a 2-1 win over Northampton Town 19 years ago, and they did it against a team which featured a former Pools player in their forward line.
Steve Howard made a return to his former club and was prominent in much of the visitors’ play.
Howard was not the only threat to Pools either as Town also boasted Carlo Corazzin in their ranks – and he was on a high after winning the Golden Boot award for his part in Canada’s success in a tournament just a week earlier.
As it was, it was Pools who took the lead and it only took them seven minutes to do it.
Town had tried to clear a Pools attack but it fell to Paul Stephenson who hit the sweetest of shots from 25 yards out.
Northampton came back strongly when Howard crossed for John Frain in front of goal. His header was knocked away by Westwood and it was Howard who pounced on the rebound, only for his shot to whistle inches over the bar.
The visitors were proving dangerous but it was Pools who went close through Fitzpatrick whose 30-yard drive was only just tipped wide by Keith Welch.
From the resultant corner, Stephenson picked out Graeme Lee who planted a header for Pools second goal.
The Hartlepool Mail reporter at the time said: “Pools looked back to the form which led them on a run of 14 wins in 15 games at Victoria Park earlier in the season.”
But it was a mistake by the home team which let Northampton back into the match. Corazzin tried a shot on 33 minutes and, although Martin Hollund held it in the Pools goal, the ball slipped out of his hands as he stepped back.
It was end-to-end stuff after the break with David Savage, Dean Crowe, Roy Hunter, and Corazzin all testing the Pools resolve.
For Hartlepool, Tommy Miller – who had been the subject of bids by Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic that week – made plenty of pacy runs.
For Northampton, Howard was ‘forever going at the Pools defence’.
The visitors thought they had a penalty when they claimed Corazzin had been held back in the area but referee John Paul Robinson turned it down. Pools, in turn, looked threatening when Fitzpatrick adopted a shoot-on-sight policy.
In the end, it was the home side who hung on for three points, a 2-1 win, and a return to a play-off spot.