Daggers hope to dent Pools’ automatic promotion hopes


This Friday sees the second game between Hartlepool and Dagenham & Redbridge in just under as many weeks, and the visitors will aim for revenge after Dave Challinor’s men emerged victorious last time.

In the last fixture between the sides, Hartlepool came out narrow victors, a Luke Armstrong goal the only thing between the teams. With the teams sitting 14 places apart this would not have been the prediction before the game though.

Armstong’s 44th minute goal ensured an important victory, which was followed by by a 1-1 draw against Stockport County last weekend. Gavan Holohan’s effort against Stockport arrived in the 47th minute, Pool enjoying success either side of half time in their recent encounters.

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This has been a tale all season for the Pools, as it is the periods they are most dangerous, from the 31st-45th minutes and the 46th to the 60th minutes, they have scored 10 goals and 11 goals in these short bursts.

However, in the the 15 minutes before half-time, they are also most vulnerable conceding six in this time frame, five in the period just after the break, showing that Challinor’s side are susceptive when they push more for goals.

This was picked up on by Dagenham manager Daryl McMahon in his pre-match press conference for Friday’s game:

“Hartlepool probably had a 10-minute spell before and after half time where they had some good chances”

Hartlepool’s home form continues to only be able to be classed as excellent, unbeaten at the Vic in 10 games. However, Dagenham and Redbridge have also notably picked up their form and sit next to Hartlepool in the form table for the past eight games, with both teams getting a 14-point haul from that spell of fixtures.

With the chance of an upset on the cards, Sutton United will most definitely be keeping an eye on the game, although there are still games in hand for the southern side, any chance of further extending their lead at the top of the table will be massive.

Although, no matter the result, Hartlepool cannot move up or down in the Vanarama National Lague table, Challinor knows how big this weekend’s fixtures are and said this in his pre-match press conference.

“It’s an important weekend where we play two important games within a short space of time while teams at the top play each other over the course of the weekend. The table could look a whole lot different come Monday evening.”

In fact, the Daggers’ only loss since the second of March is their previous fixture against Pool, an impressive statistic for a side that sits just 12 points clear of the drop. The side instantly bounced back with a massive win over Torquay United this past weekend, showing that anything is possible.

Two of the spearheads for the positive spell of form have to be Paul McCallum and Angelo Balanta, the goalscorer from Saturday, scoring three goals each in this spell, both with a brace to their name.

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Coincidentally they are the club’s top scorers for the campaign and will definitely be looking to put a dagger in the Dave Challinor’s hopes of automatic promotion, with the pair being utilised massively within the 3-5-2 formation that McMahon has played.

This creates a battle tactically as well, Challinor’s preferred formation since December has really been the 3-5-2 and has paid off in dividends, with Pool flying high and with a return to the fourth flight of English football on the horizon for the club.

A player that DC will be hoping makes a massive impact will be Luke Armstrong, the striker has nine goals in the campaign so far, and in the side’s most recent game, saw him preferred as a sole striker in a 3-4-2-1 with Luke Molyneux and the goalscorer Holohan playing behind him creating an interesting dynamic.

Additionally Friday’s game could see the debut of new Hartlepool signing Richie Bennett, who joined the club on Thursday from Stockport County. The 30-year-old has joined on loan until the end of the season and will be hoping to bolster the Pools’ attacking prowess in hopes of their race for the automatic promotion spot, currently held by Sutton United.

The forward has commonly played in a two which means that Challinor has a more experienced option to now potentially partner with Armstrong up-front. This not only benefits Bennett, but also his manager who has favoured a two striker formation for a large part of this campaign.

With Hartlepool looking to make it 12 unbeaten, Challinor expects a massively tough game,

“They’ll want to get their own back but it’s fresh in our minds and sometimes it can be a difficult thing because it doesn’t happen very often especially in the league. It was a close game down there and I expect the same at The Vic.”

On the other side of the dugout, McMahon also wants to bring the fight to the Vic.

“Yeah I think we do (owe them) we played well for large parts of that game as well”

There’s a lot to play for on Good Friday for the Pools, but which team will see it as a good Friday at full-time?

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