We turn our attentions to the FA Cup with a full and in-depth preview of Friday night's Second Round trip to Salford City.
Salford City v Hartlepool United
Emirates FA Cup Second Round
Friday 4th December 2015
The Story So Far
Salford City will be stinging from defeat to Grantham Town on Saturday but didn’t lose too much ground at the top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League at the weekend.
The Ammies remain in third and just three points behind leaders Nantwich Town but, crucially, have three games in hand on the current league-leaders.
City’s home form has been unpredictable so far in the league and they’ve won just two of their nine games at Moor Lane in the league so far.
Thankfully their impressive away performances (they have won nine out of ten so far in the league) have kept them in touch at the top of the table.
One To Watch
James Poole was Man of the Match when Salford City progressed from Round One with a shock victory over Pools’ League Two rivals Notts County.
The former Manchester City youngster spent the best part of four years at Victoria Park and showed the same flashes of brilliance which helped the non-leaguers see off The Magpies.
Poole has also played a key role in earlier rounds of the competition, scoring a hat-trick in their replay win at Whitby Town and a spectacular goal from the halfway line in victory over Southport.
Comfortable on his right or left foot, Poole has good technique and the vision to unlock the Pools defence if he is given time and space on the ball.
Last Time Out
Saturday 28th November 2015
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 2 (Lewis 69, 81)
Salford City 0
Salford City’s incredible run of away victories came to an end when they fell to a surprise defeat in windy conditions at Grantham Town on Saturday.
The hosts had won their previous three games but it was still a shock to see City fail to win on the road for the first time in seventeen games, a run spanning back in to last season.
The Ammies were unable to take advantage of having the wind in their favour during the first half and Town got the better of them after the break thanks to two goals from Rhys Lewis.
To rub salt in to the wounds, management duo Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley were both sent to the stand by the referee though it is understood the pair will still be on the touchline for Friday’s cup tie.
Salford City: J Lynch, C Lynch, O’Halloran, Stopforth, Howson, Dawson, Burton, Moses, Webber (Poole 69), Allen (Peers 82), Hulme (Sharp 69).
Subs not used: Kebbie, Hardcastle.
Head To Head
It will come as no surprise when we confirm that Friday’s FA Cup tie will be the first time that the two sides have ever met.
Ronnie Moore is hoping to have Carl Magnay available again after he was forced off with a head injury against Oxford United, but Michael Woods remains sidelined with a thigh injury.
Gavin Ward will be refereeing only his eighth Pools game when he takes charge of our FA Cup tie at Salford on Friday evening.
The official was last on the whistle for a Pools fixture when we were beaten 4-0 at Burton Albion last December – a game Ronnie Moore watched from the stands before taking over as boss.
Assistant Manager Sam Collins may remember Ward for a different reason though – he was the referee who sent Collins off during his early days as a player for Pools at Southend in February 2008.
His latest outing came at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday when he oversaw The Seagulls’ 2-1 win over Birmingham City.
This game is now a complete sell-out and there will be no tickets whatsoever available for sale on the day at Moor Lane.
Fans without a ticket are being strongly advised not to travel.
We’ll be linking-up with our friends at BBC Tees to provide full live commentary of the game for our listeners around the world on Pools PlayerHD.
Click here now for more information on joining Pools PlayerHD to access live commentary on every game, both home and away.
Pools have been installed as 21/20 favourites to win the game on Friday night, with hosts Salford priced at 12/5 to progress while you can get odds of 5/2 on the tie going to a replay.