nPower League 1
Saturday 8th December 2012
Victoria Park, Clarence Road, Hartlepool, TS24 8BZ
Kick Off: 3pm
Weather Forecast: Cloudy, 5°c
Referee: R Madley (West Yorkshire)
Last time we met:
Last March saw Hartlepool and Stevenage played out a dour goalless draw that won’t live long in the memory. Andy Monkhouse and Evan Horwood linked up well on the left, but Jack Baldwin's back-post header was well saved by Chris Day. Boro went close through Luke Freeman soon afterwards, but he could only head Laurie Wilson's cross over the bar. Scott Laird was denied by Pools keeper Scott Flinders late on.
Boro: Day, Wilson, Ashton, Roberts, Charles, Freeman (Shroot), Bostwick, Byrom, Laird, Slew (Reid), Agyemang (Myrie-Williams)
Subs not used: Julian, Lascelles
Hartlepool will be without full-back Neil Austin who is suspended. Simon Walton is unlikely to be fit after a recent hamstring injury and this game is also likely to come too early for Luke Jones following double hernia surgery.
Stevenage could recall Lee Hills and Luke Freeman to the starting eleven after both started the 2-0 behind closed doors friendly win over Reading, however Darius Charles is suspended after picking up his fifth booking in the game previous. Otherwise Gary Smith is likely to stick with the majority of the team that secured a draw against Tranmere.
The Hartlepool Scout Report
Hartlepool are having a desperately poor season, managing just a single win from 23 games in all competitions this season. They currently sit rock bottom of League 1 and it will take something special to change that, being 8 points from the nearest team and 10 points from safety already.
Four of Pools’ last five games have ended in defeats – against Tranmere (0-2), Yeovil (0-1), Coventry (0-5) and Oldham (1-2) – but they did pick up a point with a 1-1 draw at Walsall a fortnight ago.
Hartlepool have one win and three draws from their 10 games at Victoria Park this season, where they’ve scored just 8 in the league whilst conceding 17.
Possible Hartlepool line-up for Saturday (4-3-3 formation)
Scott Flinders; Jordan Richards, Sam Collins, Peter Hartley, Evan Horwood; Ritchie Humphreys, Paul Murray, Anthony Sweeney; Jonathan Franks, Steve Howard, Andy Monkhouse
Subs: James Poole, Ryan Noble, Nathan Luscombe, Mark Foden, Jack Baldwin, Darren Holden, Charlie Wyke
Goalkeeper Scott Flinders has been a busy man this season with Hartlepool conceding 37 goals in their 20 games so far. The 26-year old former Barnsley and Crystal Palace shot-stopper is in his fourth season with Pools and has proved a fans favourite after a string of inspired performances over the years. He was sent off within four minutes of Boro’s 1-0 FA Cup first round victory last season for a foul on Chris Beardsley, with Scott Laird converting for an early winner, but Boro will need to somehow find a way past the talented ‘keeper if they are to hit the back of the net in County Durham next weekend.
- The referee for this game will be Robert Madley from West Yorkshire. The last Boro game he took charge of was the 1-0 win at Wycombe on New Year’s Eve.
- Jon Ashton’s next start will be his 160th for Stevenage FC. Of the current squad only Chris Day (222) and Mark Roberts (213) have started more games.
- A yellow card for Anthony Grant would trigger an automatic one-match suspension.
- Should he play against Hartlepool then Miguel Comminges will make his 5th appearance in a Boro shirt.
- A goal for Mark Roberts will be the skipper’s 25th for the club since joining in 2008.
Match Preview by Dave Toyn