So far, so good.
Two games have gone – and gone very well – after Hartlepool United went one better than the 6-0 romp at Billingham Town.
We expected a tougher game than we got at Billingham and we got thatCraig Harrison
Having seen off EBAC Northern League Second Division opposition last Thursday, Pools netted seven against a side from the top flight of the world’s second oldest league.
Boss Craig Harrison will not be anticipating any open-top bus journeys next May on the evidence of a magnificent seven-goal romp at Dunston UTS.
However, the victory, achieved by seven different goal scorers, showed just what quick progress the squad is making under the new manager.
Five of the starting XI were new signings, with two of them scoring brilliant first goals for the club, defender Blair Adams and forward Jack Munns.
Harrison rung the changes on the hour mark, with two of the young stars coming on to score with another of the summer signings, Jake Cassidy, tucking away his opening goal.
“It was a good match,” he said. “We expected a tougher game than we got at Billingham and we got that.
“We started well and there were some great goals.
“It wasn’t just the finishing, there was some great passing, build-up play, link-up play.
“I was really pleased.”
Harrison will not be the only one pleased with the evening’s work.
Chairwoman, Pam Duxbury, and head of recruitment, Paul Watson, were in a good crowd of 375, the majority of whom were Poolies, who will have been happy with what they watched.
They will have been delighted to see Padraig Amond in the splendid all-grey kit again and while last season’s top scorer did not find the net, he put in a canny shift, which is an encouraging sign.
Of course, the 29-year-old does not want to spend the second season in the last three plying his trade outside the Football League but, clearly, the toys have not been thrown out of the pram.
If Pools are to prosper in the National League then it is crucial Amond is still sporting the Utility Alliance logo on his chest come August 5.
Hopefully, he will remain.
He was at the centre of an attacking quartet, with Rhys Oates to his left and Ryan Donaldson on his right, Jack Munns playing just behind him, with Michael Woods and Nicky Deverdics the central men.
New signing, Louis Laing, slotted in seamlessly alongside Scott Harrison at the heart of the defence, and while the rearguard was scarcely tested, the signs were promising after just a couple of training sessions together.
While it was, with no disrespect to the host club, ‘only’ Dunston, Laing showed a willingness to bring the ball out of defence which was good to note.
Full-backs, Adams and Carl Magnay, who led the side in his home town of Gateshead, both had licence to get forward and they did just that.
Pools looked sharp and positive on the ball and, most importantly, when they lost it, were quick to win back possession.
A positive approach has come from Harrison from day one and was evident last night at Wellington Road.
Pools took no time at all to get up to speed, Amond having a shot and header saved inside the first five minutes with Munns seeing a shot deflected for a corner.
But it was Oates, who carried on from where he left off at Bedford Terrace when his low shot gave Pools a seventh-minute lead.
Even better followed three minutes later when the marauding Adams beat three Dunston players before shooting low beyond Aiden Grant.
And there was a goal of the season contender on the half-hour – long before the season has even started, when Munns scored an audacious chip from the centre circle.
Seeing Grant off his line, the 23-year-old took aim from 40-yard-plus territory before sending the ball over the goalie and into the home net.
It was the former Cheltenham Town star’s final contribution, being subbed for Liam Travers.
Munns had been injured moments earlier from a hard challenge, but what a way to say farewell.
Travers made an immediate impact, driving into the box to tee up Woods, whose finish did not match the approach work.
But the teenager soon made it 3-0, powering in a header from Donaldson’s superb left-wing corner.
After the break, Harrison brought on former Everton central defender James Graham, who is on trial at Victoria Park.
Then came the raft of changes on the hour, with Harrison introducing nine subs.
Trialist Junior Mondal came on up front, winning a penalty and converting it coolly with his left boot after being tripped.
Fellow forward Josh Hawkes made it six in the 71st minute, also with his left foot, with a low strike beyond Grant.
Dunston, who lost to Pools’ National League neighbours Gateshead 1-0 at the weekend, played with spirit and had a couple of shots in the second half but nothing to trouble Scott Loach.
There was time for a seventh as Cassidy tapped in from close range following Kenton Richardson’s cross from the right.
Cassidy could have had a hat-trick inside four minutes, hitting the post soon after before missing the target after a fine ball from the on-trial Martin Smith.
But seven was enough to keep the momentum moving.
Dunston UTS: Grant, Elliott, Drane, Jones (Pearson 16), Hall, Halliday (Ashton 55), Burrell, Helslop (Fitzpatrick 65), Thear, Anderson (Dobes 46)
Pools: Loach, Magnay (Richardson 61), Harrison (Nearney 61), Laing (Graham 46), Adams (Donnelly 61), Donaldson (George 61), Deverdics (Hawkins 61), Woods (Smith 61), Munns (Travers 31) Amond (Hawkes 61), Oates (Mondal 61)
Goals: Oates 7, Adams 10, Munns 31, Travers 36, Mondial (pen) 65, Hawkes 71, Cassidy 83
Referee: Adam Herczeg