It’s a severely depleted City that will take to the field on Saturday hoping to record their fifth straight league win against bottom club Hartlepool. The latest name to add to the casualty list on Tuesday night was Jordan Moore-Taylor, whose broken metatarsal is likely to keep him out for a couple of months. With Alex Nicholls now a distant memory, Moore-Taylor joins Reid, Baldwin, Sercombe, Cummins, Wheeler and Woodman (any more?!) on the treatment table.
Paul Tisdale will be hoping that England duo Matt Grimes and Christy Pym suffer no ill-effects from their international exertions this week. If none of the aforementioned are fit for duty this weekend Tisdale will likely have to keep all of Tuesday’s young squad bar 16-year-old keeper Kavanagh Keadell, and will need to include either Alex Byrne or, as against Portsmouth on the opening day, himself.
Anyone who saw City’s youngsters dismantle them on the final day of last season may have predicted a season of struggle for Hartlepool, and so it has proved and Pools go into Saturday’s long trip propping up the League Two table. When Carlisle’s third goal went in last Saturday, Soccer Saturday viewers were treated to the sight of Jeff Stelling saying “something has to change”, and so it did – manager Colin Cooper promptly resigned. Pools responded on Tuesday with a spirited display in the JPT before eventually going down 2-1 at home to Sheffield United, and will look to press on against City.
There is plenty of higher level experience in the squad with the likes of Neil Austin, Stuart Parnaby and Marlon Harewood, while quick striker Charlie Wyke has joined on loan from Middlesbrough having enjoyed a fruitful spell on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season. It is Wyke who leads the goalscorer chart with three goals. Should Hartlepool’s goalkeeper need to leave the field for any reason, expect a frosty reception for his likely sub – Newcastle loanee Freddie Woodman is the son of Andy, very much a pantomime villain at the Park after his less than successful spell with the Grecians in the mid-90s.
It was exactly the same weekend of the season last term when Hartlepool came down to Devon and left with a resounding 3-0 win (Jack Baldwin, Luke James and Jack Compton). The return on the final day of the season saw City’s kids put in a superb display to win 2-0 with goals from Wheeler and Keohane. City have a healthy head-to-head lead in Football League fixtures with 32 wins to Hartlepool’s 22 (22 draws).
Official YouTube highlights of last season’s encounter at St James Park