We look ahead to Saturday's game with a full and in-depth preview of Exeter City's visit to The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.
Hartlepool United v Exeter City
Sky Bet League Two
Saturday 4th March 2017
Exeter City have emerged as one of the stories of League Two this season having stormed from the very bottom of the table right in to contention for automatic promotion.
Paul Tisdale’s men were at the base of the EFL back in November following a ridiculous 3-2 defeat at Carlisle United when they were 2-1 up in the 89th minute only to throw the points away.
However, since then they’ve tasted defeat just once and their sensational form between New Year’s Eve and the beginning of February saw them win seven in a row to storm in to the top seven.
A trio of draws had stunted their progress towards the automatic slots slightly but a midweek 2-1 win at Crawley Town – an 11th away triumph of a memorable campaign saw them move just four points behind third-placed Carlisle.
Ollie Watkins will be one of the main men to watch for Exeter City this weekend as he arrives in the North-East in top form ahead of their clash with Pools.
Still only 21, the front man has come through the ranks at St James’ Park and has netted an impressive 13 goals in all competitions this term, including one in each of the last two games.
Watkins actually made his senior debut at The Vic on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign when City ran out 2-0 winners – he didn’t score that day but he will be hoping to get on the scoresheet this weekend as The Grecians look to close in on the automatic promotion spots.
Exeter City 1 (McAlinden 31)
Pools 2 (Woods 74, Paynter 75)
Exeter City: Olejnik, Woodman (Jay 86), Tillson, Moore-Taylor, Sweeney, McCready (Egan 89), James, Taylor, Simpson, Watkins, McAlinden (Byrne 70).
Subs not used: Pym, Riley-Lowe, Ampadu, Storey.
Pools: Carson, Magnay, Jones (Bates 46), Nsiala, Carroll, Featherstone, Woods, Hawkins (Amond 46), Alessandra, Paynter (Oates 86), Thomas.
Subs not used: Bartlett, Richards, Deverdics, Laurent.
Head To Head
Saturday’s game at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium will be the 82nd competitive meeting between the two clubs – and City have the edge having won 34 in comparison to Pools’ 25 wins.
The Grecians did the double over Pools last term, immediately gaining revenge after Pools had completed the double over them in 2014/15.
Quick-fire goals from Michael Woods and Billy Paynter helped turn the last meeting on its head back in August as Pools came from behind to win 2-1 after Liam McAlinden’s first half opener for City.
Robert Lewis is set to referee his second Pools game in little over a month when he’s the man in the middle for Saturday’s meeting with Exeter City.
The official has overseen six Pools games in the past, including our recent League Two defeat at Mansfield Town.
We’ve not impressed too much on Lewis’ watch in the past – the best we’ve managed is a goalless draw against Brentford in April 2012, other than that we’ve lost the other five.
Pools legend Brian Honour will join Mark Simpson for live commentary of Saturday’s game on Pools PlayerHD from 2.50pm.
Fans all over the world can access the live broadcast so if you can’t get along to the game then make sure to join the lads on Pools PlayerHD to keep up to date.
Click here now for more information on joining Pools PlayerHD.
Tickets for all areas of the ground for Saturday’s game remain on sale from the Club’s Ticket Office up to kick-off.
Two cash-only Matchday Ticket Offices will be open – one is situated on the Clarence Road side of the Prostate Cancer UK Stand and the other is on the Niramax Stand. These will open at 1.15pm and remain open until kick-off.
Fans wishing to make card purchases of tickets must report to the main Ticket Office.
Click here for full details on buying tickets for this game.
Pools are rated a 16/5 shot for the victory this weekend, with visitors Exeter installed as 17/20 favourites and the draw priced at 13/5 with our friends at Sky Bet.