Date: 11th August 2006 at 9:33am
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Could this be when the bubble bursts, after a solid start to our league two we now face our sternest test. Not only are Hartlepool a side who nearly stayed up last season but they reached the play off final the season before. This season having retained a large proportion of last years squad they are looking to prove last seasons disaster was just a blip. As one of the more fancied teams they are looking to return to league one at the first attempt….but so are we!

Injuries to the saddlers noticable skipper Micheal Dobson and Tony Bedeau as well as long term absentees Darren Wrack and Alex Nicholls will mean that our spirit and squad depth will be tested.

Vital Quotes:

Hartlepool boss Danny Wilson, ahs been talking about the transfer embargo and his view that relegated clubs should be given time to resolve this. However the fact that he hopes to bring in new faces before the August deadline means that thesituation should be resolved soon, with the wage bill hitting that magic 60% mark.

Richard Money meanwhile has been talking about the satisfaction of a steady start and his hope to improve our attacking options by bringing in a couple of players.

Walsall Team News:

Michael Dobson is going to be a big miss having virtually run the midfield in the last two games. Whilst Dickie has refused to run him out, physio John Whitney feels Dobbo will be out for about three weeks.

Two clean sheets suggest no defensive changes however the truth is we will need to get better at the back. Right back Pead will be under threat from Chris Westwood whilst Alan Picken may come back into the fold.

Midfield, Dean Keates seems the most likely replacement although, Kris Taylor could do the job. Wide positions will remain the same unless Taylor moves inside, Ishmel should provide an option on the bench until Tony Bedeau returns to fitness.

Up front Sam and Butler will get another chance to get there partnership understanding going, although Sams lack of match fitness suggests that Constable will get a run out at some point.

Player to watch: Hector Sam

Despite not fully rcovering from thee broken leg which ruled him out of last seasons campaign, Hector is improving with every game. His understanding with Martin Butler belies that lack of games the two have had together. What Hector nees at the moment is more games to improve his match fitness but more than anything is a goal. He went close at Rochdale and even closer against Stockport by hitting the bar. If Hector can get a goal he will move onto the next level I am sure.

Hartlepool Team News:

With Danny Wilson ringing the changes againsts the Silkmen midweek, following the disappointing home defeat to Swindon changes could again happen. Pool have been using a 4-3-3 formation but if they watched Stockport fail on Tuesday a normal 4-4-2 could be order of the day.

In defence Clark and Nelson should protect the greek stopper who is interesting Coventry City. Hartlepool were fairly strong defensively last season and should be a tough nut to crack. Whilst up front Eifon Williams and Michael Proctor should provide goals in league two along young prospect James Brown.

Player to watch: Dimi Konstantopolus or however you spell his name

The Greek stopper was a major part in Hartlepool getting to te League One play off final the season before last. His performances last season weren’t too shabby either with the Monkey Hangers problems at the other end of the pitch.
Summer transfer speculation linked the keeper with a move to either Leeds or Coventry City. These died down, however yesterdays sale of Man Utd keeper Luke Steele to WBA means that Coventry City are back in the market, rumours have it that a bid could now be accepted to get the wages below that 60% mark to lift the transfer embargo and also give Danny Wilson more spending power.

Match Factst & Stats

Stat mean little at this points, recent records are poor for both teams following last years relegation. However the only crumb of comfort is we have the edge in previous head to head meetings

Ref Watch:

Another newish ref again, lets hope he doesn’t bottle any penalty calls unlike Tuesdays ref.

Match Prediction:

I would love to see a home win and we are capable of getting it. However I see two strong defensive performances resulting in a draw.

Next Fixtures:

Saturday 19th August Lincoln City away


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