Story of the day: Hartlepool United 4-2 Sheffield United under-23s
It had to be Luke Williams who helped Hartlepool United secure a 4-2 victory at home to Sheffield United under-23s on Saturday afternoon.
Back-to-back defeats against Middlesbrough and York City had given manager Craig Hignett plenty to think about going into the penultimate pre-season friendly at the Super 6 Stadium.
The hosts lined-up with a strong side that will likely not be too dissimilar from the team that starts the season opener against Sutton on August 3.
The one possible exception being 20-year-old Romoney Crichlow-Noble, who featured at left back ahead of a possible loan move from Huddersfield Town.
A notable return for Hartlepool was that of Luke Williams appeared for the first time from the bench after spending all of last season on the sidelines.
The teams walked out to a typically subdued pre-season atmosphere with the rain beating down with at the Super 6 Stadium for its first Saturday 3pm kick-off of the 2019-20 campaign.
After some good early pressure, it was Liam Noble who opened the scoring for Pools as he curled the ball coolly into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box – his fourth in six friendly games.
10-minutes later and Jason Kennedy marked his first start as an official Hartlepool player with a close range header to double their lead before the break.
After an impressive first half display at York City prior to a second half collapse, Pools would be looking to avoid a repeat performance.
But the Blades quickly got on the front foot and pulled a goal back almost instantly after the restart as substitute Jake Young capitalised after Hartlepool failed to clear the danger to make it 2-1.
The home side soon restored their lead though as Kennedy nodded in his second of the afternoon from a Kenton Richardson cross.
But the Blades stabbed back again with a first time effort from Young at close range to make it 3-2 going into the closing stages.
And just before the full-time whistle, it was Williams who added gloss to the scoreline with a sumptuous 20-yard strike to confirm victory going into next Saturday’s final friendly at home to Macclesfield Town.