Sky Bet League Two: STEVENAGE 1-0 HARTLEPOOL UNITED.
Stadium: The Lamex Stadium. (Att. 3,023 with 295 Hartlepool fans).
Goalscorer(s): Chris Whelpdale. (Stevenage).
It was the start of the new Sky Bet League Two season for both sides and you could sense the optimism between both sets of supporters attending the match at The Lamex Stadium, I made the long four and a half hour journey down to Stevenage as an away fan with Hartlepool United. Last season, Stevenage were relegated the The Football League’s bottom tier whilst Colin Cooper’s Hartlepool United would undergo the task of trying to climb out of the league on their second attempt. The game started off with Pools on the front foot, winger Jack Compton hitting the bar from a neat curling effort, that would be one of a few Hartlepool chances as Stevenage would have spells in the game where they threatened every time they went forward, if it wasn’t for Scott Flinders, the Hartlepool stopper, Stevenage could have killed the game off within the first-half. Stevenage’s patience paid off as Chris Whelpdale scored a long range effort past an on form Scott Flinders.
|Sam Beasant Didn’t have much to do as I can barely recall Hartlepool having a shot on target, however when called upon he organised his defence correctly and I just can’t see the Stevenage stopper having an easier game this season.||6.0|
|Jon Ashton Wasn’t really noticeable due to Hartlepool’s lack of width in the team, but when he had to deal with Hartlepool’s Jack Compton and Luke James in the first half he stood his ground and was pretty consistent with dealing with Compton especially.||6.0|
|Dean Wells Solid with his defensive partner, Harry Worley, both were reatively comfortable and dealt with Marlon Harewood and Luke James, limiting them to time on the ball and restricting them to have a shot at Sam Beasant’s goal.||7.0|
|Harry Worley Pretty similar to Wells, both were tasked with dealing with Hartlepool’s attacking duo of Harewood and James, a good and solid game for him and his partner and if their performance was anything to go by then Stevenage should be relatively well when defending.||7.0|
|Bira Dembele Again, there was nothing much the full-backs could do on a day which Hartlepool lacked width on the flanks but I vaguely remember Dembele challenging Harewood in the air and winning the battle. But nonetheless, a solid, comfortable and quiet day for Stevenage’s back four.||6.0|
|Tom Pett The midfielder signed from Wealdstone in the summer and didn’t have a bad day on his Football League debut, caused a threat and linked well with Adam Marriot.||6.0|
|Charlie Lee Can’t remember anything worth noting. Did his job on the day.||6.0|
|Andy Bond The ex-Colchester midfielder did a good job in the engine room with Lee, dropping back when he was called upon.||6.0|
Chris Whelpdale A threat all day long, Stevenage’s attacking force gave Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Flinders a busy day and their persistence paid off as Whelpdale scored a long range effort in the second-half to cap off an impressive Stevenage spell in the game.
|Adam Marriott A constant threat and one who I had my eye on, even if he was penalised for diving in the first half. Impressive performance.||8.0|
|Darius Charles He was quiet for me, didn’t have as much of an impact as Whelpdale or Marriot.||6.0|
|Connor Calcutt Came on towards the end (77) of the match and almost scored for Boro.||5.0|
|Jerome Okimo Fouled Hartlepool’s Ryan Brobbel at the end of the game after coming on in the 83rd minute minute, gave Boro fans a scary moment in doing so as it was a clear cut penalty but the referee Mark Haywood waved away.||4.0|
|Roarie Deacon Came on late (88), not much of an impact to give a rating as his time was limited.||4.0|
|Scott Flinders Kept Hartlepool in the game, really. A top performance from the Yorkshireman, the appointment of former Middlesbrough goalkeeping coach Stephen Pears has made him a better goalkeeper and it was evident throughout as Flinders were saving close and long range efforts with ease. Kicking was poor.||8.0|
|Michael Duckworth Average for me, he’s had better games in the blue and white of Pools (or in this case, pink and black!) but did his job defensively.||6.0|
|Sam Collins One of Pools’ better players on the day, the veteran defender was composed at the back and dealt with challenges that came his way.||7.0|
|Matthew Bates A debut in which the ex-Middlesbrough defender captained Colin Cooper’s side. He did his job, like Collins, when called upon.||6.0|
|Neil Austin Poor and average, always looking to hoof the ball up to either Jack Compton or Marlon Harewood.||5.0|
|Stuart Parnaby A quiet debut, did well nonetheless.||6.0|
|Tommy Miller Another who was quiet, but Tommy Miller is one of those players who are quiet because they do the simple and basic things well. Controlled Hartlepool’s midfield well.||6.0|
|Brad Walker A disappointing game for the highly rated youngster, felt sorry for him due to having no space or time on the ball and didn’t get any luck on the day.||5.0|
|Jack Compton Apart from his encouraging early start in which the Welsh winger hit the upright, not much to shout about regarding Compton. Touch was good but could beat his man, Jon Ashton dealt with him well. Raged by the referee’s decision not to award Hartlepool a penalty, Compton was straight down the tunnel at the final whistle to the fury of the fans. Compton later apologised for this on his Twitter account||4.0|
|Marlon Harewood Poor for me. Offered nothing all afternoon due to Stevenage’s tight defence, a frustrating afternoon for the journeyman striker.||4.0|
|Luke James As always, you can expect 100% from the lad and he did exactly that. Energetic and trouble causing in the first half but Stevenage’s centre-backs dealt with him when called upon. Not the best result for Pools and Luke James if the match was his farewell game for Hartlepool||6.0|
|Ryan Brobbel The on loan Middlesbrough winger making his debut for his hometown club, should have started after coming on in the 76th minute . He was positive and energetic when he came on and should have been awarded a penalty at the end.||7.0|
|Jonathan Franks Came on the same time as Brobbel, nothing to shout about really.||6.0|