A fantastic day of fundraising at The Gemma Lee Charity Day saw the Hartlepool United XI run out 4-2 winners against Graeme Lee's side.
After a few minutes of shaking the rust off, both teams started to string some good passes together. The first chance fell to former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder Grant Leadbitter, but his opportunistic strike sailed well over Dimi’s crossbar.
Next, the HUFC XI broke forwards and saw a Kevin Henderson strike and a Micky Nelson header both well blocked. Graeme Lee’s XI won a corner of their own, and if it wasn’t for Graham Kavanagh’s air-kick, they might have had a chance.
The game’s first big chance came from Neal Bishop, but he blasted wide despite being well placed in the box. He was made to pay for it, too – HUFC XI pushed forwards and Mark Tinkler rolled back the years. Taking up his usual position 25 yards out, the midfielder took a touch and arrowed a strike into the top corner.
A few minutes later, the lead was doubled. Steven Istead, a first-half substitute, broke down the right and found Jonathan Franks in the centre. He got enough of a touch to beat Keen and the ball rolled into the net.
After a flurry of changes at the break, GL’s XI saw plenty of the ball and won a penalty after a late challenge in the box. There was only one man to take it, and Lee smashed the ball beyond Dimi to reduce the deficit.
However, it was a two-goal lead again minutes later. Peter Hartley broke down the left and found Ellison in the middle. The forward made no mistake, planting the ball into the bottom corner. Dimi made a great save from Brunt shortly afterwards, but his defences were breached again with 20 minutes to play. A good knockdown at the back post found Horlock, and his acrobatic effort flew into the corner.
A controversial fourth was scored for HUFC in the 76th minute. Istead latched onto a ball over the top, and despite protests, was adjudged to be onside. He beat Keen to the ball and rolled it in for 4-2.
Much of the rest of the game was in the midfield, and both sides received warm applause from the crowd at the final whistle.