Hartlepool United pulled off the great escape, something that looked impossible in early April, many fans were resigned to the fact that they would be playing National League football next season. But a four game winning streak throughout March steered them within reach of 22nd place. By the final day, Ronnie Moore’s side were well clear of the drop zone, but clawing back a point from three goals down against Carlisle United was a microcosm of their season.
Despite rescuing their season in the final few games, Pool didn’t have a stand out hero, a superman figure that protected the clubs Football League identity. Matthew Bates put in some courageous performances but was not that stand out player that the fans could identify to be their own. They needed somebody like former striker Luke James, the teenage striker who had come through the Pools youth academy, and eventually become ‘one of their own’ and a regular scorer in the first team. Fellow forward James Poole had also left the club after a number of seasons at Victoria Park that season, but manager Ronnie Moore gave them the bottle and character to save their season this time round.
This year the will be without stalwart stopper Scott Flinders, who has headed for York City. The 29-year-old participated in 4 League One campaigns with his former club, before their relegation in 2012/13. He will now face his former club when the sides meet on the 15th August. He has been replaced with Trevor Carson, a former Sunderland youth prospect who has showed his metal in League Two with the likes of Cheltenham, Bury and Portsmouth over the past three seasons. His experience at this level will be crucial to ensure that Pool do not have to face another turbulent season of relegation looming over their shoulder.
In all honesty, I can’t see anything special coming from the Durham club. No regular first team goal scorer is the biggest problem. Billy Paynter has been recruited from Carlisle but adds little bite to an attack that failed to reach 40 goals. The addition of Rakish Bingham from Mansfield, is a huge gamble, the striker ended the season with 1 goal In 5 games while on a brief loan stint at Victoria Park, but obviously impressed Ronnie Moore enough to earn a permanent deal. The signings of Jake Carroll and Harry Worley undoubtedly bolster the defence. But with the midfield staying virtually indifferent from last season, there could be problems in the centre of the park, if no new names are added before the 1st September.