The Mariners’ unbeaten run in Sky Bet League Two came to an end last weekend when a second half comeback from Play-Off chasing Bradford City saw the Bantams pick up a 3-2 win at Valley Parade.
An opening 45 that saw Gavan Holohan and Andy Smith score to give Town the lead after Alex Gilliead’s early opener for the hosts gave the travelling Town faithful cause for optimism but a strong second half for Bradford – led from the front by former Mariner Andy Cook – meant the points stayed in West Yorkshire.
The encounter, though, added further credence to the argument that the Mariners are more than equipped to take on the better sides in League Two, giving cause for optimism ahead of next season.
Now, attentions turn to two matches in four days, the first of which sees a relegation-battling Hartlepool United side visit Blundell Park.
Hurst spoke to the media this week and revealed that both Michee Efete and captain Luke Waterfall have returned to training ahead of tomorrow’s match but wouldn’t be drawn on whether either will be involved.
He also added that there was a slight concern about Gavan Holohan after picking up a knock in training but shared that the midfielder came through training on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Tomorrow’s visitors currently sit in 23rd place and are battling relegation in their second season after returning to the EFL. They are two points adrift from safety with Crawley sitting a place above them.
With the worst defence in the league, Pools have conceded 68 goals so far this term from their 39 league matches. That being said, they have made themselves that bit more challenging to beat in recent weeks following the appointment of John Askey as manager.
Unbeaten in League Two since his arrival in late-February, Hartlepool drew five consecutive matches before beating Swindon Town on Saturday with an 88th minute goal from Connor Jennings coming minutes before Oliver Finney’s stoppage time winner gave them a 2-1 lead.
If the team from the north-east are to escape the drop, much of the responsibility for goalscoring will fall on Josh Umerah, their top scorer this term with fourteen goals to his name. Fellow forward Daniel Kemp – a January arrival – has scored six goals from eleven matches since his arrival and both will require the attentions of Town’s defence.
The two sides faced each other in the reverse fixture in October when our opponents won 2-1 at Victoria Road after an earlier Gavan Holohan goal against his former club was cancelled out by Alex Lacey before a late Niall Maher own goal gave Hartlepool the win.
Of the 49 meetings between the two sides, the Mariners have won 23 compared to Pools’ 19.
Anthony Backhouse will be the man in the middle on Friday afternoon. His last Mariners match was our 3-0 victory over Crawley Town at Blundell Park back in October.
Connor Brown and Jack Topp will be running the lines.
Tomorrow’s match is eligible for streaming to supporters in the UK and overseas. Match passes are available for £10 HERE.