The new-look Hartlepool United FC youth team made their first league appearance of the delayed campaign at home this Wednesday. In October, the College announced its newly formed partnership with Hartlepool United FC that would see the formation of a new youth team to develop the future talent for the first team >> https://bit.ly/38cx42r
Yesterday the team kicked off their long-delayed campaign with their 1st game in the Association of Colleges premier division against a very strong and more experienced South Shields FC side. The HUFC team lined up including nine 1st years in the starting eleven. It was the away team who started well putting the young Hartlepool side under pressure. Unfortunately, this pressure told when South Shields took the lead when some indecisive defending let in the forward who struck in the bottom corner to take the lead. This seemed to wake the home side up as they started to become more dominant in the game. Some excellent play by the impressive Josh Daley started to get the Hartlepool side going forward, this was nearly rewarded when a well-worked corner straight from the training field was so close to the equaliser. However, Hartlepool didn’t have to wait long to make sure the scores were level when the outstanding Olly Cann played a great through ball for Harry Close who ran clear, checked inside and superbly lobbed the keeper from the edge of the box, 1-1. This was how the score stayed until half time.
The second half started with Hartlepool on top, with Ben Weighill causing problems with his non-stop effort and running, Hartlepool, however, were made to pay again when some indecisive defending again allowed the ball to bounce and the Shields forward-firing in at the 2nd attempt after he miskicked his first effort. South Shields were now on top and looking for the 3rd goal which would have killed the game off. However, they came up against Hartlepool goalkeeper, Mauro, who pulled off a great save to keep the scores at 2-1 and Hartlepool in the game. Unfortunately that fantastic save had caused an injury, and with no substitute goalkeeper, it was up to midfielder Connor Gales to see out the game between the sticks. Mackenzie Kirwan came off the bench to replace Connor in midfield.
Video: Harry Close scoring both goals for Hartlepool United U19's Youth Team against South Sheilds U19's (Wednesday 4th November 2020)
The team pushed on and the hard work paid off as Hartlepool finally got their reward when once again Olly Cann played a great forward ball and this time it was a defensive mistake from the Shields defender that allowed the prolific Harry Close to move in to smash home from 18 yards into the top corner, 2-2.
The experienced South Shields FC came with a big squad, were interchanging their team and continuing to attack but only to be thwarted by some good defending from the back three of Thomas Lea, Harry Sawdon and Josh Hatton. Towards the end of the game, the impressive back three were finally beaten but Shields couldn’t get past the final hurdle of makeshift goalkeeper, Connor Gales, who made a fantastic save at the near post.
In the final throws of the game, the telepathic duo of Olly Cann and Harry Close nearly combined again for the winner only to be denied by the away keeper. The game finished 2-2.
Head of high-performance Coaching and team manager Ian McGuckin, said “this was a fantastic game and a great learning experience for all the young lads in the team. We are a fairly new team and today, our first league game, to come up against the experience of South Shields was a good test for us.”
Man of the match went to the prolific Harry Close for his two fantastic finishes but McGuckin added “It could have been 3 or 4 of the lads, there were some fantastic performances. I’m really pleased on how far the players have come on in such a short space of time, especially with limited games to date, Attitude and application was of an excellent standard.”