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In opposition this season: Hartlepool United

11 July 2014

Hartlepool United will be the first team to visit St James Park in October.  Oliver Roderick takes a look at Pools as we continue to analyse Exeter City’s opponents this term.


Last season
Needing seven games to record their first win in 2013/14, things didn’t look good for Hartlepool United early on, but six wins in eight games over October and November quickly established Pools as one of the division’s form sides.

Falling out of form again as they lost six straight between late-March and early-April, Colin Cooper’s side found the top seven to be out of reach, and in the end had to settle for 14th.


The summer so far
Simon Walton (who has since joined Stevenage), Andy Monkhouse, Zak Boagey and Greg Rutherford all departed Victoria Park on the expiration of their contracts following the conclusion of last season.

It was a disappointment last week when young striker James Poole turned down a new contract and departed the club, but defenders Neil Austin and Dan Jones and midfielder Lewis Hawkins have all been tied down to new deals.  Former Middlesbrough players Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby have both joined Pools this summer.

Meanwhile, defender Sam Collins has taken on an assistant-coaching role.


The manager

Most famous for two lengthy spells at Middlesbrough which bookended his career, Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper is a twice-capped England international.  Cooper clocked up over 600 appearances in club football, and represented his country first in a 3-3 Umbro Cup draw with Sweden at Elland Road, and again three days later in a 3-1 Wembley defeat to Brazil.  

Hartlepool United became his first shot at management in 2013, following two spells as a caretaker with both Boro and Bradford City. He led United to 14th in his first season as boss last time out, and has a win percentage of 32.


Ones to watch

Cardiff-born winger Jack Compton stole the show in Hartlepool’s 3-0 win at St James Park last season, scoring one goal and creating two more.  Formerly at Falkirk, Portsmouth and Colchester, Compton wasn’t too prolific following that: he had to wait until the penultimate home game against Morecambe to find his name on the scoresheet again, but will want to put that right this season.

Experienced striker Marlon Harewood built a reputation as one of the most potent forwards in the Premier League during his time with West Ham United.  He top-scored for the Hammers in 2004/05 and 2005/06, a year in which he would receive an FA Cup runners-up medal as Liverpool produced a comeback victory in the final at the Millennium Stadium.  Moving to Aston Villa in 2007, he never quite reached the same heights, and took in short spells with a host of Football League clubs, as well as spending six months in China with Guangzhou R&F before joining Hartlepool in January.  He has three goals since. 


Head to head
This time ten years ago, Exeter City fans would have considered Hartlepool United one of our bogey teams.  In eight games against Pools, between December 1999 and February 2003, the Grecians only managed to avoid defeat once, and even that was only a draw.  That is in stark contrast to the run between 1992 and 1996, where it was the Grecians that exerted dominance over this fixture, winning seven of nine games with no defeats.

Last season, Hartlepool handed Exeter one of their most disappointing defeats of the season when they won 3-0 at St James Park, but the Grecians got their own back by winning 2-0 at Victoria Park on the final day.

Exeter City wins: 32
Hartlepool United wins: 22
Draws: 22


Club links
Danny Coles spent a month on loan at Hartlepool United from Hull City in 2007, playing three times for Pools.  Daniel Nardiello is another who has played for both, having been on loan to the Monkey Hangers from Blackpool in 2009.


Key clash
Hartlepool United 2-3 Exeter City, Victoria Park, Saturday 11th September 2010

In a League 1 game at Victoria Park which swung back and forth like a yo-yo, Exeter City came out on top, leaving the North-East with a big three points.

Ryan Harley handed City the lead when he scored after 12 minutes, but Richie Humphreys and Anthony Sweeney scored within four minutes of one another to give Pools the half-time advantage. 

Their lead remained intact for only three minutes of the second half, however, as John O’Flynn drew the Grecians level, and within nine minutes O’Flynn had found a second – 3-2 the final score.


Odds
Hartlepool are rated at 25/1 for the League 2 title by Sky Bet.  A Pools promotion would rate at 6/1, while relegation is at 8/1.

United travel to Stevenage on the opening day, and are 11/4 to kick off the campaign with a win.  The home side have odds of 5/6, while the draw is at 12/5.

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