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Match report: What a team

23 October 2021

From two goals down, Hartlepool United rallied, bagged three goals, and kept their unbeaten home run going. After George Thomson put the visitors ahead and Neill Byrne turned the ball into his own net, Pools got back into the game with goals from David Ferguson, Mark Cullen, and Matty Daly.

Pools started the game brightly and had a chance in the fourth minute when Mark Cullen jinked through the Harrogate defenders, but dragged his shot wide. Next, Hendrie saw his header saved by Oxley and Daly’s header looped into the away end.

Challinor’s side had the ball in the net not long after, but the flag was up as Byrne was caught offside. The chance came after a well-worked routine from Pools, with the ball already goal-wards when the defender connected.

Good defending from Pools saw Armstrong, Muldoon, and Diamond unable to make in-roads, though the latter thought he’d bagged the opener. The on-loan Sunderland man was caught offside and Pools survived.

It wasn’t for long though, as Harrogate got the opener. Following Neill Byrne going into the book, a cross from the left was flicked on by Armstrong and fired high into the net by Thomson. Things got worse for Pools just after the goal when Jamie Sterry went down injured and couldn’t continue.

Harrogate carried their momentum well and scored their second goal following a quick free-kick out wide. Fallowfield was released down the right and Neill Byrne could only turn the ball into his own net. Mitchell made a good save to prevent further arrears as the half came to an end.

Pools came out a changed side in the second half, with Liddle introduced for Shelton. Harrogate thought they’d scored their third, but Mitchell was pushed in the build-up and the chance passed. From then, it was all Pools.

First, David Ferguson found space at the back-post and fired Ogle’s cross far beyond Oxley in the Harrogate goal. Then, less than a minute later, Pools were level. Excellent build-up play saw Hendrie find space and cross from the right. His in-swinging delivery was met by Cullen and the header flew past the ‘keeper.

Five minutes later, Pools were ahead for the first time. Matty Daly was the architect, taking down the ball, exchanging passes with Liddle, and bending a left-footed shot beyond Oxley’s reach and into the net.

The home side continued to control the game, with chances for Molyneux and Ferguson. Joe Grey’s introduction kept Harrogate on their toes, and Pools saw out the game with excellent marshalling from the returning Liddle and Featherstone.

Pools XI: Mitchell, Sterry (Ogle 33), Hendrie, Byrne, Ferguson, Featherstone, Shelton (Liddle 46), Holohan, Daly, Molyneux, Cullen (Grey 72)

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