Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hartlepool preview

When one discusses the nature and merits of true genius, the likes of Einstein, Newton and Michaelangelo tend to be at the very heart of the debate.

However to the traditional illustrious list, I would also add one of Hartlepool's finest, Jeff Stelling.

His ability to front Sky Sports on a Saturday afternoon with such humour, despite the gormless invited company of a washed out collection of former players and alcoholics, is worthy of such lofty comparisions.

For those Addicks fans seeking a hint of the type of reception they might receive as high-brow Southerners, this classic clip of Stelling at his very best. Don't take it too seriously though....he held his wedding in Richmond-upon-Thames.

After an at times impressive opening day performance at the Valley, the Addicks soon reverted to type, going down 1-0 at Hereford admittedly with a weakened side.

It would be easy to write this one off as a meaningless defeat, but it was hardly a reserve side that played.

In a number of important positions (eg. centre back, full back, wide midfield), the cover for the incumbent players is extremely weak, which does not bode well for tough trips just like today's.

Given that Hartlepool have played all of their League football in the lower two divisions, the visit of a club like Charlton with very recent Premiership experience, will be viewed by locals as one of the 'glamour' fixtures.

And they'll no doubt be more up for it as a result (we've never played them before in a League match incidentally).

We met in Sep 2005 in the Carling Cup however during Alan Curbishley's final season. A crowd of 10,328 saw the Addicks triumph 3-1 at The Valley, with goals from Johansson, Bent and Bothroyd. Of the 16 players in the squad that night, only Lloyd Sam remains at the club.

Thanks to the efforts of highly-regarded managers like Mike Newell and Danny Wilson, the club have achieved a degree of stability in the past decade or so, coming painfully close to a first promotion to the second tier in the 2004/5 play-off final.

They began this season with a creditable draw at much fancied MK Dons, whilst following up with an even more impressive 1-0 Carling Cup win at Coventry

The Addicks should be selecting again from a full-strength squad which offers some comfort. Assuming Parkinson opts again for 4-5-1, I think the first 20 minutes or so will be key to the final result.

If that impressive five-man midfield can retain possession and slow the game down, then our generally greater quality can prevail. If however we are not fast out of the gate, and invite pressure onto a questionable defence, then a defeat surely looms.

I sense this one will be a real marker for our realistic hopes this season, for better or worse.

I think Parkinson will line them up as follows: Elliott, Richardson, Youga, Llera, Dailly, Bailey, Racon, Shelvey, Semedo, Sam, Burton. Subs: Randolph, Mambo, Spring, Basey, Gray, McLeod, Fleetwood.

NY Addick predicts: Hartlepool Utd 1 (Boyd), Charlton 1 (Bailey). Att: 6,901.


At 10:56 AM, Anonymous johnny73 said...

For competitive games outside the league fixtures I think we do need to play the kids and back up players, they all need to prove themselves and show they have the ability to contribute. At the moment you are correct, no one, has stepped up.

Would like to see Mambo on bench, we need defensive cover, and at the very least it allows him to observe up close and personal.


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