By Ryan Brookes | Image by Mark Comer
We have a chance to extend our Vanarama National League unbeaten run to nine games this Saturday afternoon when we travel to Hartlepool United, who are under new management.
Following relegation from the Football League at the end of 2022/23, the Pools have had far from an easy time back in the fifth tier.
They began the campaign with former promotion-winning City boss John Askey at the helm, suffering a narrow defeat at Barnet on opening day, which they followed up with four straight wins, but it has been a downward slide ever since.
Only bottom of the pile Oxford City have lost more games than the Pools’ 16. Hartlepool’s Emirates FA Cup dreams were also cut short in the Fourth Qualifying Round by Chester, who would in fact go on to play the Minstermen.
With just one league win in the previous eleven, Askey was dismissed, and to some surprise, caretaker boss Lennie Lawrence was the one who secured a long-awaited victory in the following game, 2-1 over Oxford City to kick off January.
But the Pools failed to make it two on the bounce, coming up short away at AFC Fylde, before four days later, they were eliminated from the Isuzu FA Trophy on penalties.
Ebbsfleet away was next up, and Hartlepool made sure to pick up three points there, but lost out in their most recent fixture against Kidderminster, the first under newly-appointed manager Kevin Phillips.
Manager: Kevin Phillips
It has been only a week since ex-England international Kevin Phillips was named the latest Pools boss, and he goes in search of his first win this Saturday.
Boasting over 600 appearances in his playing career, as well as five promotions to the Premier League, Phillips has plenty of experience in the game.
Most notably in his career was a six-year stint with Sunderland, in which he bagged 130 goals in 235 games.
The forward also enjoyed spells with the likes of Watford, Southampton, West Brom, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace.
He hung up the boots in 2014 and moved to the coaching side, initially occupying coaching roles at Leicester City, Derby City, and Stoke City, before a first managerial job came about for him at Northern Premier League outfit South Shields in 2022.
It was quite the success, as the 50-year-old guided the Mariners to a play-off finish during his first season.
Although not taking them all the way up in 2022, he managed to gain automatic promotion to the Vanarama National League North the following campaign, winning the league title.
Top Scorer: Emmanuel Dieseruvwe
The 29-year-old has carried on his scoring form from last season at FC Halifax Town across to Hartlepool United following his summer move.
He has managed 13 goals so far this term across 23 appearances, which puts him joint-sixth in the league’s scoring charts, level with Ebbsfleet’s Dominic Poleon.
Dieseruvwe averages a goal every 154 minutes but it has been over 45 days since he was last involved, currently sidelined with injury and unlikely to appear against the Minstermen.
One We Know: David Ferguson
City fans will recognise plenty of names from the current Hartlepool squad ahead of today’s big clash, especially captain David Ferguson, who was a fans’ favourite during his time here.
The Pools skipper spent nearly three years at Bootham Crescent, tallying almost a century of appearances in red and blue.
After the 2019/20 National League North season was suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic, City were beaten 2-0 to Altrincham behind closed doors in the playoff semi-final, and so Ferguson then departed to Hartlepool, who he has since won promotion from the National League with, prior to last season’s relegation and return to the fifth tier.
Other familiar faces within the Pools ranks include goalkeeper Pete Jameson, who Minstermen fans will fondly remember from the National League North playoff success in 2022, Kieran Wallace who spent time on loan here in the same season, and Luke Hendrie from his brief loan spell in 2016.
Saturday afternoon’s meeting will be the 119th between the two sides, with the Minstermen able to boast 48 victories compared to Hartlepool’s 41.
They made it 41 wins over City back in November when goals from Jake Hastie, Tom Crawford, and Nicky Featherstone put Pools three goals to the good, before Tyler Cordner netted a late consolation with an injury-time header.
Currently eight games unbeaten in the National League, York City will want to keep that good run up heading into February, but it is the team that they were last defeated to that stand in front of them at 3pm today.