2023 has been a year of highs and lows for Hartlepool United Women.
The team secured promotion in May with a third placed finish in the NERWFL Northern Division but have found adapting to the Premier Division a trickier proposition.
Craig Bage’s side currently sit in tenth place but have delivered some positive performances that provide encouragement of a change in fortunes in the New Year.
Hartlepool sat in fifth place in the Northern Division at the start of 2023 with aims of breaking into the race for promotion. Home form was proving key, a 5-1 win over Washington and a 5-0 triumph against Guisborough Town kept Pools amongst the chasing pack.
March was a pivotal month and provided the result of the season. Norton Reserves were Pools’ biggest rivals for a top three finish and Station Road hosted a crucial encounter at the start of the month. Pools trailed 2-0 at the break but a second half rally, including a late winner, secured a vital 4-3 win. Just one point separated Hartlepool in third and Norton in fourth at the end of the season with this game proving to be the deciding factor.
The end of the 2022/23 season saw Pools secure promotion back to the NERWFL Premier in style. Their last home game was a 9-0 victory against Thornaby and they closed the campaign with a 4-1 win on the road at Bishop Auckland.
The summer saw plenty of incomings as the squad shaped up for life back in the fifth tier of women’s football. Pools started slowly, dropping points from winning positions against Spennymoor, Sunderland West End and Wakefield. Away form was also proving a concern with heavy losses at South Shields and Bradford.
Hartlepool have won their most important game of the season so far though. A 2-1 home success over struggling Harrogate Town has provided Craig Bage’s side with some breathing room in the battle at the lower end of the table.
Recent home displays against Wallsend and Barnsley haven’t provided the results that could have helped Pools pull further away from danger. Performances are improving though and there has been enough to suggest that Pools have the ability to survive at this level in 2024.