On Saturday, it will have been 1,554 days since Hartlepool United defeated Doncaster Rovers 2-1 at the Vic. The victory, which left Pools just short of survival, was the team's last game in League Two before spending four consecutive seasons in the National League. Now, more than four years later, Hartlepool are ready to welcome Crawley Town to the Vic for the season opener.
Both teams have now completed pre-season, but come into the game on the back of differing results. Hartlepool won their final pre-season game against Dunston UTS 5-0, while Crawley fell to defeat against Combined Counties Premier Division South outfit Beckenham Town.
Crawley Town finished mid-table in the 2020/21 League Two season, placing 12th in the overall standings. 12 points from the play-offs and 16 clear of the drop-zone, it was a comfortable if not exciting season for The Reds.
The team is led by John Yems, a former scout at Newcastle United. His managerial experience also includes stints at Horsham, Crawley as a caretaker coach in 2007, and Exeter City as an assistant. The top scorers for Crawley last season were strikers Tom Nichols and Max Watters with 15 goals apiece. While Watters has since returned to parent club Cardiff, Nichols has remained at The People's Pension Stadium for the 2021/ 22 season.
The teams have met six times, with Pools winning none of the previous encounters. Three games have ended with a Crawley Town win, while the other three fixtures were drawn. The last game between the sides was in January 2017 when James Collins' goal in the 63rd minute gave Crawley a home win.
New signings Mark Cullen and Jake Lawlor are both expected to be available for the first game of the season, though the former is still on his way back from a hamstring injury sustained against Spennymoor in pre-season. Plenty of new players are in line for their first official club starts, including Neill Byrne, Fela Olomola, and Reagan Ogle.
Joe Grey continues to sit out as he recovers from a long-term injury and Youth Team forward Harry Close is unavailable due to contract issues.
How to Follow
Due to the EFL regulations, Mixlr audio commentary now will be a subscription-based product. You can purchase a matchday audio pass from the link below. Once you have purchased your audio ticket, you will be sent a link and a code. Click the link, enter the code and the commentary will be available. Available from £2.50 per game.
Commentary starting from 2.40pm Saturday with Alex Chandy and Adam Boyd.
Once the EFL provide the new website and iFollow access, match commentary will be passed over to BBC Tees who will continue to cover Hartlepool United for the rest of the 2021/22 season via a subscription package on the iFollow website.