Our look back of the past campaign moves in to the New Year period and the first couple of months of 2018 were critical on and off the pitch.
The New Year kicked-off with the return leg of the north-east derby double as Gateshead made the short journey to Victoria Park just six days after the 2-2 draw at The International Stadium.
Again the encounter was an entertaining one and Pools twice led through Keith Watson who celebrated his return to the side with a double but the Tynesiders responded twice to snatch a share of the spoils.
Pools were on the road again days later as they made the journey to Dagenham & Redbridge where a strong first half performance was undone by the concession of a goal six minutes before the break. Craig Harrison’s side came out firing at the start of the second half and were back on level terms on the hour through Michael Woods but then pressed the self-destruct button again with some sloppy defending. By the time Woods scored again on 84 minutes it was mere consolation as the host ran out 4-2 winners.
With financial troubles continuing to cause concern, Club staff reunited legends Micky Barron and Ritchie Humphreys for a memorable fund-raiser in the Centenary Lounge as the duo recalled their special times at The Vic and gave their thoughts on the perilous situation.
As well as that, Pools fan Rachel Cartwright set-up a page for people to make donations to help the Club – and it took off to such an extent that people from all over the country were pledging money.
Meanwhile, former players such as Nathan Thomas, Mark Tinkler and Jordan Hugill all donated match shirts to be auctioned, while Nottingham Forest sent a shirt signed by several of their European Cup winning squad.
On the transfer front, Pools agreed to sell young front man Connor Simpson to Preston North End and he departed for Deepdale to help swell the Club’s coffers a little.
There was also a campaign to try and swell the attendance at the next home game against Wrexham, with Middlesbrough fans particularly mobilised as they looked to repay Pools for the help given to them in their hour of need back in 1986.
As a result, a crowd of almost 7,000 was at The Vic for an emotional afternoon but the action on the pitch didn’t match the fervour off it and it was Wrexham who earned three points thanks to goals from debutant Scott Quigley in a 2-0 win.
As Pools made their way to the midweek clash with Chester, news broke that a potential takeover involving Chris Musgrave had fallen through and the Club was back on the market and remained on the brink. On the pitch, Michael Woods put Pools in front but the hosts hit back 13 minutes from time and the game finished 1-1.
One of the longest journeys of the season was next up as Pools went to Eastleigh – but they returned empty-handed despite scoring three times at Silverlake Stadium. Michael Woods twice put Pools in front in the first half but and defending allowed Chris Zebroski to score the easiest hat-trick of the season to add to Adi Obileye’s earlier strike. Conor Newton’s late strike made it 3-4 but the defeat was compounded by a late sending-off for skipper Carl Magnay.
Before the month was out, young winger Jack Blackford was released from his contract and Nicky Deverdics completed a move to Wrexham as Pools attempted to cut costs, though a Club statement admitted it was “extremely disappointing that interest shown to date has not come to fruition.”
At the start of February another fund-raising event organised by Club staff saw Jeff Stelling as guest speaker for a great evening at the Borough Hall – with action at a minimum on the pitch due to weather and FA Trophy chaos, it provided good respite for long-suffering fans.
The following day it was confirmed that the money raised by Rachel Cartwright’s Just Giving page has been transferred to HMRC to pay-off an outstanding tax bill.
There was finally some football to enjoy when Woking visited The Vic on Saturday 17th February and Pools looked like they’d been missing it because they came out of the traps in ferocious mood.Goals from Devante Rodney, Jake Cassidy and Rhys Oates saw a 3-0 lead created before half-time and, even a late fightback from Woking, Pools held on to run out 3-2 winners.
It was hoped that the three points could be a platform for improved form but a terrible performance followed at FC Halifax Town three days later as the hosts enjoyed a 2-0 win – a victory which led Chairman Pam Duxbury to part ways with boss Craig Harrison.
Matthew Bates was in caretaker charge for the weekend visit of Ebbsfleet United but he could not drag a winning performance from the players and it ended in a 1-0 defeat and the following game against Leyton Orient was postponed as wild snowstorms swept across the country.
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