Pompey v Hartlepool: The Insider

Former Pompey goalkeeper Trevor Carson has been in impressive form for Hartlepool   Picture: Joe Pepler
Former Pompey goalkeeper Trevor Carson has been in impressive form for Hartlepool Picture: Joe Pepler
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The season started with four straight wins for Hartlepool following their improbable survival against relegation from the Football League.

Since then it has rather tailed off a little and they are possibly going back to the level and standard expected of Pools last term.

Still, I would suspect where they are now is a fair reflection of what the club is at the moment.

Ronnie Moore’s side could possibly play their way into the top half of the table, though, there have been glimpses.

They played very well in the second half against Leyton Orient last month and ran out 3-1 winners.

Then they bamboozled Oxford United for long periods a few weeks ago only for Michael Appleton’s side to nick it.

On a given day they have demonstrated they can play against a good side.

Ultimately they don’t score enough and for all their impressive play against Oxford the goal would not arrive.

At the start of the season a lot of people mentioned how Pools could emulate Wycombe Wanderers in terms of League Two progress.

Under Gareth Ainsworth, the Chairboys went from near oblivion to the play-offs, something Hartlepool could aspire to following their close brush with relegation.

But, genuinely, hand on heart, the club’s ambition remains just to improve on last season.

They have struggled at the wrong end of the league for four or five seasons so avoiding that scenario would at least represent progress. Many would be happy with a mid-table finish.

Moore had a clear out of a lot of players in the summer, recruiting 12 in the process, of which three were goalkeepers.

You can’t turn around a squad in such a short space of time, don’t expect miracles overnight, especially when it is Hartlepool.

Moore hasn’t got the budget of Paul Cook or Appleton – he has a Hartlepool budget.

Where they are at present – 20th – is pretty much a fair reflection of how the season has gone so they will look to push up towards mid-table or the top half.

Looking at the side, ex-Pompey keeper Trevor Carson has been awesome.

He broke his toe before the season started but has now played the last five matches and has been excellent.

Carson has come for all the crosses, is a good shot stopper and last season was player of the year at Cheltenham. He must be up there as one of the best keepers in the division.

Kal Naismith has been on loan from Pompey and cannot play in this game, but is another who has done well.

Moore described him as having a wand for a left foot and has been very good so far, I suspect the manager would like to keep him a bit longer.