Friday 14 August 2009

Hartlepool United Preview

It's long trip north tomorrow, for what is the second of three consecutive away fixtures. We head to Hartlepool after being relived of our league cup commitments following Tuesday's extra time loss at Hereford United, a result which appears to have been met with mild disappointment but ulitimately a certain sense of relief. This season is, after all, about getting of this division (at the right end I might add).

Like many, I'm pretty clueless about tomorrow's opposition, although their opening two results of the season, a credible draw with the MK Dons and the Championship scalp of Coventry City in the League Cup, suggest they won't be a push over. If we're to stand any chance of being in the mix at the end of the season however, these are games we really should be winning.

In terms of personnel, the good news is that following a mid-week break for most of our first choice XI, we seem to be refreshingly injury free. Dailly, Llera and Richardson are all fit to resume defensive duties and there don't appear to have been any additions to the injury list following the game at Hereford. Phil Parkinson therefore has options at his disposal, how will he use them?

To be honest, it's difficult to see him doing anything other than sticking with the eleven that took to pitch again Wycombe Wanderers last weekend. Nobody seemed to have staked a claim to a starting berth at Hereford and, more to the point, we played some good stuff against the Chairboys. As Parkinson has himself acknowledged however, we do seem to be lacking the fire to tuck away the chances we are creating.

Deon Burton and Jonjo Shelvey will need to improve on their performances last week, which were short of what they would have liked. Andy Gray, Izale McLeod, Chris Dickson and Stuart Fleetwood will all be desperate for the chance to start a game up front, and they may get their opportunity to do so in the not too distant future. Andy Gray certainly hasn't done a very good job of selling himself however, missing an open goal against Wycombe and a penalty against Hereford.

So all things considered, this who we are likely to see take to the pitch come 3pm:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Racon, Semedo, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton

I can't imagine the bench will change either, although it would be good to see Yado Mambo given one of the seven spots should either Dailly or Llera suffer a recurrence of their injuries.

I'm not sure what to expect from this game. I would like to think we can start to build some momentum in the league by adding a further three points to those we picked up against Wycombe, but unfortunately I think Hartlepool will make this harder for us than we would like.

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