Hartlepool United travel to Devon this weekend as Exeter City look to extend their strong recent form.
Ahead of the game, Sam Moakes looks at three Pools' players hoping to break City's three game clean sheet record.
You can catch more of Sam's scouting report in this week's edition of The Grecian programme, which you can buy online or around the ground before Saturday's fixture.
Ones to Watch:
First up on our list of ones to watch is Nicky Featherstone, and he’s first up for good reason. The midfielder has played every minute of Hartlepool’s 26 league games this campaign, having been a key part of the club for the last eight years, joining from Harrogate in 2014. Featherstone started out at Hull City, also turning out for Hereford and Walsall, before making Victoria Park his permanent home.
As a result of his long tenure at the club, Featherstone is also captain, leading by example wherever he features across the club’s midfield. The 33-year-old has scored four goals this league campaign, most recently netting Hartlepool’s first league goal this year – an equaliser against Stevenage. In fact, Hartlepool are usually quite fortuitous when Featherstone scores; before this year’s game against Forest Green, the side had not lost a game in which he’d scored.
Timi Odusina only really came into the side this season in early December, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less of a reliable performer for Hartlepool. The young defender signed his first professional contract with Norwich as a 16-year-old, getting his first taste of first-team football during a loan spell at AFC Fylde. He won the FA Trophy during his time with the Lancashire club.
Since joining Hartlepool, first on-loan and then on a permanent deal in 2020, Odusina has made almost 50 appearances for the club; most of these occurring in the National League. Since earning a regular starting berth in December, the 22-year-old has put in some encouraging performances, especially during the club’s goalless draw away at Carlisle. Even though Hartlepool’s defensive record hasn’t quite improved, Odusina is one to watch for the future.
Whilst he may not have netted as many times as Hartlepool would’ve liked him to, Luke Molyneux looks like a decent player for the future. A youth player at Sunderland, Molyneux only made three appearances for the Tyneside club; instead experiencing loan spells at Gateshead and then Hartlepool, before making the move permanent in 2019.
With just four goals in all competitions this year, from 29 appearances, Molyneux’s goal tally is somewhat underwhelming – but that doesn’t mean his performances don’t help the side. The 23-year-old is a tireless striker, hailed for his ability to play centrally or on either flank and genuine pace up front. The arrival of striker Marcus Carver from Southport should provide some encouragement for Molyneux; he will probably play alongside the new signing, providing the youngster with a more permanent strike partner, which he has somewhat lacked so far this year.