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MATCH PREVIEW: Hartlepool United vs Swindon Town

We preview The Pools ahead of this weekend’s League Two showdown…

30 March 2023

Swindon Town face Hartlepool United this weekend as they look to end a run of five without a win in League Two.

The Robins will be hopeful of a valuable three points to close in on tenth in the standings and reignite a potential late drive towards the play-offs.

Here’s some background information on Hartlepool, who themselves need the points to aid their push for survival.

The lowdown…

The club was founded back in 1908 as Hartlepool’s United Football Athletic Company.

West Hartlepool’s won the FA Amateur Cup in 1905 and after the club was dissolved in 1910, its assets and liabilities were subsequently taken over by Hartlepool’s United.

They were playing in the North Eastern League at the time, before being elected into the Football League in 1921.

They’d spend 37 years in the Third Division North, at which point they were placed into the Fourth Division.

In 1968, the ‘s’ and the ‘United’ of the club’s name was removed due to the merger of West Hartlepool with the town of Hartlepool and the village of Hart – forming the new borough of Hartlepool.

Promotion was secured in 1967/68 for the first time, though relegation out of the Third Division followed the next season.

In 1977, the ‘United’ was added back to the team’s name. They won another promotion in 1990/91, but were demoted in 1993/94.

Further promotions followed out of the fourth tier in 2002/03 and 2006/07, having suffered relegation yet again in 2005/06 after losing the League One play-off Final to Sheffield Wednesday the previous term.

The Monkey Hangers were relegated again in 2012/13 and ended their 96-year spell in the Football League by slipping into the National League in 2016/17.

Promotion was achieved back to the promise land in 2020/21, as they overcame Torquay in the National League play-off Final.

The club is well known for being one Brian Clough started his iconic managerial career with.

Their record appearance holder is Ritchie Humphreys with 543 to his name, while their leading scorer is Joshie Fletcher with 111 goals.

Their home…

The Suit Direct Stadium, or Victoria Park as it’s more commonly known, is the home of Hartlepool.

The four sides of the ground are known as the Town End Terrace (official capacity 1,775), the Niramax Stand (official capacity 1,617 seated and 1,832 terraced standing), the Cyril Knowles Stand (official capacity 1,599) and the Rink End (official capacity 1,033).

The stadium was previously known as the Northern Gas and Power Stadium between August 2016 and June 2017.

Additionally, it went by the name of The Super 6 Stadium during the 2018–19 season for sponsorship reasons.

From November 2021, Victoria Park was rebranded as the ‘Suit Direct Stadium.’

The last five previous meetings…

The league reverse earlier this season took place back in late October, with Town claiming a 2-1 victory at the County Ground.

Jonny Williams opened the scoring on 12-minutes before Luke Jephcott doubled the advantage five minutes later.

Clarke Oduor scored just before the half hour mark but it proved a mere consolation.

Swindon are actually unbeaten in their last seven games previous to this against The Monkey Hangers in league action, with Saturday’s hosts last claiming a victory over us back in October 2009.

Last season Town recorded an impressive double over Pool, scoring three goals on both occasions as the pair met in League Two.

The first instalment last term came in November 2021 at SN1, as a crowd of over 7,700 witnessed Jonny Williams, Tyreece Simpson and Jack Payne score in a 3-1 victory.

The reverse in April saw the tie end 3-0 in Swindon’s favour in County Durham. Harry McKirdy (two) and Mathieu Baudry were on the scoresheet that day.

Before that, you have to go back to 2013 for the last battle, as the pair met in League One.

The tie in August of that year ended goalless at Pool with Paolo Di Canio at the helm.

The previous encounter that term also ended in the sides sharing the spoils, with Simon Ferry’s opener in the February 2013 fixture cancelled out by Andy Monkhouse.

Before that, in April 2011, fans witnessed another draw, with the game finishing 1-1 at SN1 - Matt Ritchie netted that day.

Hartlepool United this season…

It’s proved a tough campaign for The Pools this term, where they currently sit second bottom with just six League Two wins to their name.

As things stand, they have a six point cushion over basement club Rochdale but lie five adrift of Crawley who drew their midweek game in hand.

Defensive frailties have proved costly this term. They’ve conceded the most goals in the division, which currently stands at 67 from their 38 games.

No win in their last nine league outings is form they could do without at this stage of the campaign, with their last victory coming during the first week of February away at Doncaster Rovers (1-0).

They’ve drawn their last five on the trot too, and six of their last seven.

The manager…

John Askey is the new man in the Hartlepool hotseat following Keith Curle’s dismissal at the end of February.

The former departed the club with them hovering just a point above the drop zone.

The 58-year-old has been in charge for five league games thus far, with each of them ending in draws, meaning he does boast an unbeaten start to his tenure, although of course, he is yet to win.

His first game at the helm was an entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Walsall, where the hosts netted twice in stoppage time to rescue a point, but turning those draws into victories is still proving a challenge.

A winger/striker during his playing days, Askey failed to make any appearances for Port Vale at the beginning of his career before moving into non-league with Milton Town during the 1983/84 season.

But he’d find a much happier home at Macclesfield Town, where he spent 19 years, racking up 511 appearances and scoring 108 times.

Moving into management in 2003, he’d take the reigns at Moss Rose until 2018, where he would then have spells at Shrewsbury Town, Port Vale and York City, before being appointed Hartlepool boss in February. 

Players to watch…

They may be struggling at the wrong end of the League Two table, but in forward Josh Umerah, The Pools have a player that can certainly score goals.

The 26-year-old centre forward has 11 to his name so far this term and Hartlepool will be relying on him to come up with the goods during the end of season run-in.

Right winger Dan Kemp is another to keep an eye on this weekend. He hasn’t created as much as he would have liked this season in terms of setting up goals, but he has netted six himself.

Callum Cooke plays a pivotal role in John Askey’s midfield, with Wes McDonald providing an good option on the left side.

Forward Connor Jennings is one of their more experienced heads and is another option up top. He scored the late equaliser in their last outing to rescue a point against league-leaders Leyton Orient.

While 34-year-old captain Nicky Featherstone is fast approaching 350 Pools appearances and could feature.

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