Hartlepool United welcome the visit of Grimsby Town at Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon for a crucial game which could define Hartlepool’s second half of the season. The Mariners currently stand six points ahead of The Pools and could take a huge step forward and make Pools work that little bit harder for a final play-off push, if there was to be one. Grimsby have already sold out their allocated 1033 (total away end holding is 1033) tickets for this blockbuster of a game, which adds a little abit of sauce to the fixture. Grimsby have a tremendous away following and once again are living up to that name by selling out a two hour drive. This somewhat has a feel of a derby to it, Pools’ closest game this season is Doncaster(an hour and a half away) then after that, Carlisle, Accrington and Grimsby are all a good two hours away and are seen as ‘mild rivals’

The game itself is expected to be a thriller. Pools leading goal scorer, Padraig Amond, was seen as a hero for The Mariners, only last year, as he helped them bag that much awaited place back into The Football League. Amond, 28, has been in fine form of late, scoring in his last two and stands on nine for the season, so far. He will be greeted by some familiar faces in the Grimsby line up, including his former striker partner and rocket up front, Omar Bogle, who has taken to League 2 really well this season, and has been linked with teams such as Leeds, and Sheffield Wednesday recently. ‘Bogez’ is currently on 18 goals this season and currently stands as the league’s top scorer this season. It comes as no surprise to many Grimsby fans, he is a real physical presence and is rather quick on the ball considering his size and power, this could cause Pools’ defence some real problems. Grimsby could also offer lots of threat from young winger Tom Bolarinwa, who has been on fire for Grimsby in recent games.

Hartlepool are going to have to do the dirty work without their two best players, which pretty much sums up their luck this season. Stars Nathan Thomas and Trevor Carson are both out injured, but in different circumstances. Nathan Thomas has been out for eight weeks, after being stretchered off in a 3-2 defeat against Barnet, back in late-October. There are rumours that he could actually feature on Saturday’s game, as a substitute, but many feel this is highly unlikely as he has only just been given the all clear that he can run again. Thomas has been a BIG miss for Pools these past months, having bagged seven goals in the first 1/4 of the season, he and Pools looked destined to kick on and do well, his pace and skill was electrifying to watch and it came as no surprise that clubs such as Charlton were watching him. His absence has been clear. Furthermore, Northern Ireland and Pools’ number one GK, Trevor Carson has just been ruled out for the season with a serious shoulder injury, which requires surgery, which means that young goalkeeper, Adam Bartlett will be given the nod for a start. Will he live up to Carson’s name? It will be a difficult task, as Carson has came to Pools’ rescue on many occasion this season, with a blistering performance against Pompey being a stand-out. Further absentees include Carl Magnay, Hartlepool’s right back, who has been out, and will be out, all season, which means Hignett will either opt for a three-at-the-back approach or play with a five man defence and include Northern Ireland U21 International Liam Donnelly as a right-wing-back. New loan signing and left back Sean Kavanagh could also feature, having only joined the club today from Fulham until the end of the season.

Grimsby, on the other hand, currently have no injury’s of note and in the middle of currently adding depth to their squad, with signings such as Adi Yussuf adding quality to the team. Adi bagged himself a goal on his debut, which featured an incredible win against Carlisle at Brunton Park earlier in the week, a win which has set Grimsby a standard turning into the new year, and has added hope to their play-off dream this season. Grimsby also completed the signing of centre back Gavin Gunning  today, which will allow them more depth in their defence, which has been seen as a bit of a weakness this year for the Mariners. The former Dundee captain has signed a short term deal until the end of the season.

Predicted line-ups:

Hartlepool(4-4-2)

Bartlett, Donnelly, Harrison, Bates, Carroll, Alessandra, Hawkins, Featherstone, Deverdics, Paynter(C), Amond

 

Grimsby(4-4-2)

Henderson, Andrew, Boyce, Mills, Pearson, Collins, Disley(C), Davies, Comley, Vernon, Bogle

 

Previous Encounters:

Grimsby haven’t had much of their own way against Hartlepool in recent year(minus their conference years) having only beaten Hartlepool twice out of the last seven meetings, with Pools winning the other five. However, Grimsby do have the bragging rights with the overall record between the two.

Hartlepool wins – 18

Draws – 7

Grimsby wins – 22

 

Earlier This Season

Grimsby Town 0-3 Hartlepool United – 1.10.16

Back in October, Hartlepool thumped Grimsby 0-3 at Blundell Park, and included two goals from that man, Padraig Amond, in a what appeared to be easy victory for Pools. Grimsby will be hoping for some revenge to make up for that embarrassing defeat and have since changed managers, having lost Paul Hurst to Shrewsbury and are still finding their feet under Marcus Bignot.