The first month of 2016 had plenty of drama, another postponement and some FA Cup fever at Victoria Park.
Having endured a miserable Christmas period due to postponements, Pools were looking forward to kicking-off the New Year in style when they made a long trip to Newport County.
Ronnie Moore’s squad made the voyage to South Wales on New Year’s Eve, staying in nearby Chepstow overnight – before waking at 8am to the worst possible news.
Heavy rain had once again hit in Newport and club officials got in touch to say that the game was in doubt, and it was subsequently called-off after a pitch inspection.
The Pools squad did a training session in their hotel gym and had some food before setting off on the return leg back to the North East.
Next up was the FA Cup visit of Championship high-fliers Derby County and Jake Gray celebrated extending his loan stay at The Vic by firing an acrobatic opening goal to hand Pools an unlikely lead on the hour mark.
However, it was an advantage they couldn’t hold and Jacob Butterfield struck an excellent equaliser six minutes later before Darren Bent broke Pools’ hearts with a County winner five minutes from time.
In a brilliant gesture after the game, Derby officials contacted Pools to donate their share of the gate receipts back to the Club – something massively appreciated by everyone at The Vic.
Also in the week after the game, Sky Sports star and Pools Honorary President Jeff Stelling announced that he and the Club’s Chief Executive Russ Green would be walking 262 miles from The Vic to Wembley to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.
And there was also breaking news from The Vic itself as Ronnie Moore moved back in to the transfer market to snatch winger Nathan Thomas from Mansfield Town and he went straight in to the starting line-up for Wycombe Wanderers’ visit to The Vic.
In a tight game, the selection of Thomas proved a masterstroke as the wide man stole a yard on the full-back to whip a low ball in for Scott Fenwick who diverted home the afternoon’s only goal.
A second trip of the season to Accrington was at least rewarded with a game this time around after the November postponement, but it yielded the same result in terms of points gained as the impressive hosts put Pools to the sword with a 3-1 triumph.
The game at The Crown Ground saw Ellis Harrison make his debut after signing on loan from Bristol Rovers and the forward was also in the line-up for the next game at Cambridge United.
However, after a bright start during which he caused the home defence all sorts of problems, Harrison reached to challenge for a ball and hurt his knee – an injury which would see the end to his brief stay in the North East.
Pools did find a way through at The Abbey Stadium when Jake Gray found the net early in the second half and they looked on course for all three points until The U’s levelled in the last minute of normal time to salvage a draw.
The encouraging performance against Cambridge gave Pools fans hope as they arrived to see the final game of the month when Exeter City visited The Vic. But Moore’s men turned in a subdued display and The Grecians ran-out 2-0 winners on a disappointing afternoon.
Pools 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0 – WATCH
Accrington Stanley 3 Pools 1 – WATCH
Cambridge United 1 Pools 1 – WATCH
WATCHPools 0 Exeter City 2 -