Stokesley: 1 – Jordan Lowrie, 2 – Sean Harland, 3 – Chris Lynas, 4 – Tim Sharples, 5 – Seb Hanratty, 6 – Craig Winter, 7 – Billy McGrath, 8 – Jordan Rivis (C), 9 – Anthony Barnes, 10 – Dan Joseph, 11 – Connor Hardman, 12 – Sean Oddy, 13 – Jon Kinson, 14 – Shaun Laverick, 15 – Jake Laverick, 16 – Chris Mason.
Hartlepool FC: 1 – Elliot Coils, 2 – Luke Naylor, 3 – Kieron Campbell, 4 – Jack Swales, 5 – Paul Moss, 6 – Callum Short, 7 – Kalon Lloyd, 8 – Samuel Cook, 9 – John Stephenson, 10 – Andrew Blackburn, 11 – Jamie Tumilty, 12 – Jonny Murray, 14 – Mat Hughes, 15 – Jack Harrison, 16 – Mat Stokes, 17 – Josh Nobus.
A completely last minute decision, following the late announcement of a day off, I travelled down to Stokesley to watch them host Hartlepool FC in the Wearside League. Stokesley, sitting 14th in the league before kick-off, hosted a Hartlepool side sitting in 7th, so we could be looking at a close game!
On arrival to the ground, we were greeted by a very welcoming gentleman in the ticket office. The bargain hunter in me loves Wearside League games; at £3 each for entry, you really can’t go wrong! The added bonus of today’s trip was availability of badges and scarves on offer – just £2.50 for a scarf, and £3 for a badge. I hadn’t seen the price for the scarves, so I went for just a badge, but I’ll definitely be back for a scarf when I can!
Onto the game, and with all the formalities done with, it was Stokesley who got the game underway. And it was the hosts who created the first chance, but this was headed straight at Hartlepool’s Elliot Coils by Stokesley’s captain, Jordan Rivis, in the first minute.
And it was the hosts who managed to strike first. In just the 3rd minute, Stokesley’s Sean Harland floated a freekick into the area that was touched in past the onrushing keeper. Whilst it was quite the scramble to win the header, Jordan Rivis claimed the goal post match. Traditionally, an early goal in a game usually makes for a cracking rest of the game, so I was hoping for a high scoring game at this point!
But, to my dismay, the game settled down after the goal. In fact, it took nearly 7 minutes for the next half chance to be created. Hartlepool’s John Stephenson made a powerful run towards the Stokesley defence, winning his team a corner as a result. The resulting corner was easily cleared by Stokesley, who countered straight away through Chris Lynas, who managed to run the ball into the Pools half, only to pull it back for Dan Joseph who shot the ball into the car park.
Hartlepool’s John Stephenson seemed like the only source of creativity for the visitors at this point, and it was the pacey striker who managed to win the away side a freekick in the 12th minute. The resulting freekick was, again, easily cleared by the defence; Hartlepool seemed to be struggling to get the ball past the tall figure of Craig Winter so far.
It took until the 18th minute for Hartlepool’s pressure to almost come good. A great cross by Luke Naylor fell kindly to Jamie Tumilty, who struck a half volley straight at Stokesley’s Jordan Lowrie, who’d got down well to save. Certainly not the easiest chance, but a sight of goal for the away side to build on, having struggled so far in the game.
Apart from the goal, the first half seemed a bit dull. The game had gotten a bit heated at times, with players disagreeing with officials, as we often see, but nothing else really happened of note. So the teams went in at 1-0, and not particularly the goal fest I’d craved so far!
Hartlepool kicked off the second half, knowing they really had to step up their game if they were to get anything out of the game. And they did just that. After some great play from Stephenson, the ball was played to the Pools number 2, Luke Naylor, who shot low and squeezed the ball under Jordan Lowrie, who’ll probably feel he could’ve done better. 1-1 in the 48th minute, and game on!
Not only had Hartlepool come out of the changing rooms the stronger team, they managed to continue the momentum well into the half. Some great pressure from their attacking players kept Stokesley penned back for parts of the game, allowing the away side to create some great chances, although none of these were taken.
But there’s no point of having all the pressure if you can’t convert chances, and this was proven in the 58th minute, with goalkeeping error number 3. Stokesley’s Rivis intercepted a poor clearance, and shot low at Pools’ Elliot Coils, who allowed the ball to skim under him, and into the back of the net. I sympathise with both keepers, because the pitch was soaking due to showers before and during the game, and it was fairly windy. But it was 2-1 to Stokesley, maybe just against the run of play, but that’s the way it goes if you can’t work keeper.
And just three minutes later, Jordan Rivis got his, and his sides, third goal of the game. A great searching ball into the area from Dan Joseph was sensationally put into the back of the net via a sweetly struck overhead kick. Whilst the away side can be disappointed with their poor defending, it takes a great amount of skill to finish in that way, and a great way to cap the hattrick for the home side’s captain. It was 3-1 now, and the away side looked out of the game at this point, despite there being 30 minutes remaining.
But the away side kept their heads up, and carried out with the same determination that they’d shown all game. Hartlepool’s Andrew Blackburn and Jamie Tumilty continued to work together, but nothing really came of it. The only real activity of note between the two was a Tumilty pull back, just after Stokesley’s third goal, falling to Blackburn but this was shot well over.
Onto the 81st minute, and Hartlepool’s pressure paid off. The ball fell to the feat of Andrew Blackburn, who’d looked exceptionally good in this second half, who managed to shoot the ball rather tamely at the front post. This time, the ball was unfortunately parried into this own goal by Lowrie, making it 3-2 with 10 minutes remaining.
But the last significant action of the game fell to the hosts, much to Hartlepool’s dismay, who’d had a thoroughly frustrating night. Anthony Barnes made way for Sean Oddy in the 87th minute and, with just his second touch following a 1-2, Oddy slotted the ball home, wrapping the game up for Stokesley.
4-2 was how the game finished, with 5 of those goals coming in the second half.
I never realised just how close Stokesley was to home, but I’ll definitely be returning soon following tonight’s game. From the team’s performance, to the Stokesley Ultras, who didn’t stop singing for the whole 90 minutes, I was thoroughly entertained. Good luck to both teams for what’s left of the seasons!