Hartlepool v Sheffield United, September 1st 2015
Hartlepool v Sheffield United, September 1st 2015. Billy Zinc.
On a cold morning around 15 years ago expeditors from a local bridge construction company visited the stockyard in the shadow of the 20" Pipe Mill in Hartlepool. This was the start of the saga of The Wembley Arch. I hasten to add that the manufacture of the pipes, in Hartlepool which form the arch and their delivery to the customer was problem free, the well documented problems concerning the construction of the arch, came later. Though I've seen the infamous arch many times, it is an ambition of mine to see the Hartlepool team play under the it. But maybe not this season, as we've been knocked out of the best route to Wembley for lower division teams.
Hartlepool's manager Ronnie Moore has an old fashioned yet refreshing attitude to cup games, in that he plays strong teams. Like all us old ones he seems to regard every game as a game to win, not a chance to blood a string of youngsters or give out of form players a run out, which can be done at a controlled rate in the league.
Even a strong side though, was not a match for the onslaught Pools endured for the first quarter of the game, when the huge looking forwards mercilessly pounded our defence. Fortunately Bartlett's heroics kept the score to 1-0. The home crept into the game in the second quarter and could have gone in on equal terms. The second half saw the improved Pools side soon equalise with an exquisitely worked goal which started with Bingham dribbling his way into the penalty box, then finding Fenwick, through a sea of defenders, who confidently tapped the ball home. Not since the days of Watson and Humphreys, have a seen two Hartlepool forwards work so well together.
The rest of the half saw Pools narrowly missing chances to take the lead and the Sheffield United team getting more and more frustrated and niggly. After booking Worley of the home team for a rather innoxiously looking tackle, the referee let some heavy play from the visitors go on without punishment, indeed when he finally booked McEveley it should have been a red not yellow as a previous foul committed, seconds earlier could have attracted a first yellow.
The draw saw no extra time being played, but lead straight to the drama of a penalty shoot out.
After two successes from both sides Scott Harrison's on target shot was saved. Sheffield went on to score their third, before Scott Fenwick's effort also failed to reach the back of the net. The fans who had started walking away quickly rushed back when Sheffield`s fourth was saved. Pools netted their fifth but so did Sheffield which sent them through to the next round.
The 300 odd Sheffield fans loudly supported their favourites throughout and, unlike the Carlisle contingent at the weekend, managed to do so without breaking 46 seats, an advertising hoarding and having some of their number find their way to the police cells.