Opposition view: What can Hartlepool United expect ahead of their trip to Halifax Town

Hartlepool United make the relatively short journey to Halifax Town on Tuesday evening looking to bounce back from their opening day disappointment against Sutton United.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 6:00 am
The Shay, Halifax. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)

A 3-1 home defeat to start the 2019-20 National League season was not in the script for Hartlepool, who had enjoyed a productive summer before Sutton brought them back down to earth with a brutal dose of realism.

An early brace from Sutton’s Harry Beautyman set the tone in what would prove to be a familiarly disappointing afternoon at Victoria Park for Pools. Gime Toure pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time with a well taken effort to set up an interesting second half but it wasn’t enough.

The away side were keen to soak up the pressure as Hartlepool pushed for an equaliser before they were caught out on the counter attack by Will Randall in stoppage time.

In contrast, Halifax couldn’t have enjoyed a better opening day down at Ebbsfleet as they cruised to a 4-1 win following an early red card for the home side.

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Goals from Cameron King, Niall Maher, Jack Earing and a 60-yard wonder goal from veteran defender Nathan Clarke in stoppage time summed up a dream start for the West Yorkshire outfit under new manager Pete Wild.

We caught up with Shaymen reporter Tom Scargill from our sister title the Halifax Courier to see how Pools’ first away opponents of the season are shaping up ahead of tonight’s match.

How has Halifax's pre season been?

TS: “Traumatic in a word. They've had to cancel or rearrange nearly all their games - the first due to a lack of players and the others due to a problem with the Shay pitch - while also dealing with the resignation of manager Jamie Fullarton, and a half-finished squad. But new manager Pete Wild has almost completed the squad now and won his first competitive game 4-1 on Saturday at Ebbsfleet, as well as his previous game - Town's last friendly - 1-0 at League Two Oldham. Wild has brought something of a feel good factor to the club with his interviews and his style of play. More shots, more attacking, more adventurous.”

Any impressive new signings?

TS: “There's plenty to choose from! Eight new faces so far, of which I would say Jack Earing is potentially the most exciting. A creative midfielder, he uses both feet, has good technique and scored as a substitute on his competitive debut at Ebbsfleet. Earing joined from Bolton this summer and appears to have the technique and ability that comes with playing at a higher level. Still learning his trade, but expect him to only get better as the season goes on.”

Who will be their dangerman tonight?

TS: “If Saturday is anything to go by, Cameron King. In his second full season at the club, the number 10 was outstanding at the weekend, pulling all the strings for Town. Scored the first and had a big hand in the crucial third, he is a classy player, excellent on the ball, consistently gets in pockets of space in the final third and usually picks out the right pass. Wild is a big fan of his and wants to get him on the ball as much as possible.”

What is the team's style of play?

TS: “Wild says he wants the team to try and grab control of games, get the ball to their most creative players and let them do their thing. Town will work hard off the ball but will look to win possession high up the pitch if they can, and then get forward as quickly as possible with the ball on the deck. Some of the football in Wild's two games in charge so far has been really good to watch.”

What weaknesses could Hartlepool exploit?

TS: “Well, Town were excellent defensively last season, keeping 19 league clean sheets, while in Sam Johnson, they have one of the best shot stoppers in the division. New left-back Jerome Binnom-Williams did well on Saturday, but did have one or two shaky moments. He only joined Town late on in pre-season so will still be catching up fitness wise and still be getting used to his new team-mates. Centre-backs Matty Brown and Nathan Clarke have been nothing short of magnificent over the last year, but neither are quick, so could be tested against a pacey striker.”

Are there any injuries?

TS: “Forward Dayle Southwell and winger Josh Macdonald are still recovering from long term injuries. But other than that, everyone who played at Ebbsfleet is expected to be fit.”

Likely line up and formation?

TS: “4-2-3-1 - Sam Johnson (GK), Michael Duckworth (RB), Nathan Clarke (CB), Matty Brown (CB), Jerome Binnom-Williams (LB), Niall Maher (CM), Josh Staunton (CM), Jeff King (RW), Cameron King (AM), Danny Williams (LW), Tobi Sho-Silva (FW).

Subs: Will Appleyard, Liam Nolan, Jamie Allen, Sanmi Odelusi, Jack Earing.”

Finally, what is your score prediction for this evening’s match?

TS: “2-1 Halifax – I think Town are on a real high after Saturday's win and have a bit of momentum behind them. It sounds like Hartlepool are missing some key players, which could also help swing the result Halifax's way.”