It’s more big numbers for the travelling Fleet fans’ mileage diaries as a two-week wait for the return of Vanarama National League football ends at Hartlepool. It’s a fourth visit to Teesside for the Fleet who have a good record in that corner of the north-east and make the trip with three of the four October signings having been heavily involved in the 5-0 win over Cray Wanderers in the Kent Senior Cup.
Hartlepool, relegated from the EFL last season, currently sit 14th in the National League and have failed to pick up a point in their last four matches, while claiming just two wins in their past 12. Saturday’s hosts began the season on the front foot securing wins in five of their opening seven but the tables turned following a heavy defeat away to Oxford City and they have since only won twice. Both Hartlepool and the Fleet have conceded the same amount of goals this season with 34 but Pools edge the number of goals scored with 29 compared to the Fleet’s 23.
The Fleet have never lost to Hartlepool in the six meetings since the first exchange in 2017. The figures are certainly in the Fleet’s favour having kept a clean sheet against Hartlepool in every meeting bar one – the home match in November 2019 where the points were shared in a thrilling 2-2 draw, Myles Weston with a brace on that occasion. In the last trip to the Suit Direct Stadium (as Victoria Park is now titled) in March 2020, the Fleet came out victorious thanks to a penalty converted in the 78th minute by Gozie Ugwu. That was the penultimate game before the pandemic forced a national lockdown.
It’s a tight battle for the spot between the sticks. Joel Dixon began the season as Hartlepool’s first-choice keeper before Harrogate Town loanee Pete Jameson took the reins. Following a difficult run of results, ahead of the Pools’ match against Rochdale, Dixon returned to the side.
Defender and captain David Ferguson arrived at the Suit Direct Stadium in 2020 after three successful seasons at York City, and it’s been a similar journey for new midfield loan signing Mitch Hancox who joined from York in midweek.
There’s a lot of experience in the number 10 role with Callum Cooke having played for the likes of Bradford, Blackpool and Crewe but he has an ankle ligament injury currently. Also in midfield is Nicky Featherstone who returned to the club last month having only been released in the summer. He has enjoyed seven years with Hartlepool before that, making almost 400 appearances.
And for goal threats, ex-Salford and FC Halifax striker Mani Dieseruvwe has bagged 11 goals this season in 17 matches.
John Askey made his name following a long managerial spell with Macclesfield Town where he took the reins from 2013–18, earning the low-budget club an unlikely title and promotion into the EFL. In recent years he has gone on to manage the likes of Port Vale and York City (where he won another promotion) before making the move to Hartlepool in February.
Rakish Bingham will know a thing or two about Saturday’s opponents having spent a year at the club. Originally a loan signing, Bingham made the move permanent ahead of the 2015/16 campaign where he then went on to make 36 appearances in total with a return of five goals.
Another familiar striker is Josh Umerah, who spent his time at the Fleet in 2019/20 and indeed played for us in the last visit to Hartlepool three years ago.
The two teams will be observing a minute’s silence ahead of kick-off to mark Remembrance Sunday and the Fleet players will wear black armbands in respect.
Tickets can be bought online here or on matchday at the club ticket office, payable by cash or card.