Hartlepool United meeting the opposition.
Following a poor afternoon away at Walsall, where Micky Mellon’s Tranmere lost 1-0, The Whites are back in action as they travel to the North East where they will come up against Hartlepool United this Tuesday night.
It’s vital that Rovers start winning on the road as they have dropped points in their last two games, games in which they probably expected to win against opposition that are further down the table. Tonight brings a relatively similar challenge and if Mellon’s side are to occupy the three automatic promotion places they need to show what they’re capable of producing in these fixtures.
Hartlepool United currently sit 15th and are in good form.
The two clubs have met many times before with a certain play-off game that Tuesday’s visitors won’t want to remember but to find out more about the hosts, I spoke to Dan Patton who made sure to mention it!
How long have you been supporting Hartlepool United and what were your initial reasons for doing so?
I’ve been supporting Pools since I was a bairn, my dad took me to a game when I was very young and I fell in love with the club since then. Falling in love with Pools is not good for your health though that’s the issue.
What were your expectations going into this season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we’re a few games into the second half of the campaign?
I wouldn’t say expectations were very high amongst the full fanbase, but personally I was optimistic coming into this season, knowing the quality we had in certain areas of the squad.
Now I think there’s a lot more optimism and confidence in the full fanbase, after promising performances and a great January transfer window. The majority of people think we can really push on now.
Graeme Lee is Hartlepool manager after being appointed in December 2021. How would you describe his time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?
So far he’s done well, given the circumstances. We’ve had cup runs in the FA Cup and Papa Johns, while the league form has been lacking. However, I think a turn around in league form is inevitable, with our recent system change and January additions.
Who would you say are United’s stand out players? Where will the key battles be on Tuesday night?
Timi Odusina. As of late the Centre Half has been exceptional, his pace and power make him very difficult to play against, and I’d imagine your forward players will have a hard time on Tuesday. Also Luke Molyneux, when played on the wing, he’s a very effective player, with a great left foot and an eye for goal.
How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter (A 1-0 win for 6. Tranmere at Prenton Park in early September) between the two clubs? If so, why?
To be honest I think we dominated the reverse fixture in September, just couldn’t get the ball in the onion bag. I think realistically a draw is likely but I’m hopeful for a 2-1 win.
We will more than likely set up differently too, playing a 4-3-3 formation, instead of 5-3-2. This frees our forward players and allows us to be much more dangerous in attack, we will definitely take the game to Tranmere that’s for sure.
What starting eleven do you believe will be selected by Lee and how would you describe the playing style he’s managed to implement on his side so far?
Killip, Sterry, Byrne, Odusina, Ferguson, Morris, Crawford, White, Molyneux, Bogle, Grey.
I think since GL has been appointed we’ve played some really good stuff, especially in our most recent league game against Barrow. We keep the ball on the deck when we can and I think we’ve looked much better defensively since he was brought in.
Thinking of the previous meetings between Hartlepool and Tranmere, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?
The obvious answer to this would be the League One Play Off Semi Final in 2005. We won on penalties in the second leg to book our place at the Millennium Stadium. Unfortunately, we didn’t go on to win the final, but that is definitely the most important game between the 2 clubs.
I also remember Nicky Deverdics scoring a beauty of a free kick in 2017 against Tranmere, ultimately a season to forget for us though.
As the January transfer window has now finished, were you happy with the business that The Pools were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?
Very happy with the recruitment, with the additions of Omar Bogle, Bryn Morris and Joe White in particular, we’ve brought real quality into the squad.
Omar Bogle will, without a doubt, score plenty of goals for us over the next 2.5 years and Bryn Morris is seen as a perfect replacement for the ageing Pools legend Nicky Featherstone.
Additions like this are the reason why I believe we can push up the table in this second half of the season and leave ourselves in a respectable league position, giving us momentum going into next season.