I’ve seen Sunderland West End play at Grayfields in Hartlepool a few times now. I watched this fixture at the back end of last season, and I watched them away to Horden CW when they were playing at Grayfields at the start of last season. As soon as this game was arranged, I pencilled it in as a game I would go to. Now that I’m not involved in the league with a club all of the time, I would definitely say Hartlepool FC are my favourite club in the Wearside League. It would go something like this: Northern League Division One – Seaham Red Star/Sunderland RCA, Northern League Division Two – Easington Colliery, Wearside League – Hartlepool FC and Durham Alliance – Horden CW. I’ve said it plenty of times before, but everything about non-league football is better than the professional game for me. All the professional game does is exploit fans. I paid £1.20 for a cup of tea and a Mars Bar at Hartlepool FC tonight. Get that at Sunderland AFC and you’d probably be looking at about £4. Even at Hartlepool United, it would probably be somewhere between £3 and £3.50!
Hartlepool FC pegged back to draw against Sunderland West End
Sunderland West End snatched a point courtesy of an injury time equaliser at Hartlepool FC on Wednesday night.
Sam Cook had fired Hartlepool into an early lead, but Brad Forster’s equaliser in the first minute of second half added time meant the points were shared in a 1-1 draw.
It was the final game of the season for both sides, and both sides came into the encounter fresh from cup final wins over the bank holiday weekend.
Upon kick-off, Hartlepool could have taken the lead inside 10 seconds. Straight from kick-off, Cook took the ball forward and quickly played Jamie Tumilty in. However, his effort was saved.
Jordan Fielding rose to meet the resulting corner, but his glancing header failed to find the target.
It was a very positive start from Hartlepool, and they broke the deadlock in only the fourth minute. Having worked the ball across to Cook, he took a touch before looking up and picking out the bottom corner from 18 yards.
West End hadn’t started and Hartlepool FC continued to pile the pressure on the Wearsiders. Michael Connolly had an effort saved following good work from Tumilty and Dale Campion, before the same man took responsibility of a dangerous free-kick only for Graeme Pickering to save.
In the 13th minute, a Snowdon corner picked out Tumilty on the edge of the penalty area but his effort was too high.
Cook fired wide from long-range in the 18th minute, before West End started to grown into the game.
Hartlepool were suddenly offering very little, and it was West End creating the chances.
West End’s Mark Robinson forced a save from Elliot Coils, before a dangerous West End free-kick was played short to David Keithley who blazed over.
Forster headed wide for the visitors just before the half hour mark, before Coils was forced into a save to prevent West End skipper Lee Smith.
A guilt edge chance fell the way of West End’s James Cassidy with 11 minutes of the first half to play. Hartlepool failed to clear a cross and it dropped to Cassidy who blazed over from 12 yards.
As half-time approached, Connolly almost doubled Hartlepool’s lead. His deep cross-cum-shot had Pickering worried but it just say evaded the far corner.
Following the break, West End continued to search for an equaliser.
However, it was Hartlepool who created the first real chance. Tumilty burst down on goal before opting to lay the ball off to Luke Naylor. He tried his luck from 20 yards, but Pickering was able to save.
In the 53rd minute, West End were almost level. A quick throw played Robinson in and he rounded Coils. However, the Hartlepool defence were quickly in place to cover for Coils and Robinson’s effort was blocked.
Campion went close to doubling Hartlepool’s lead in the 57th minute. After turning on the edge of the penalty area, the former Seaton Carew man got a shot away but it was deflected narrowly wide. Snowdon met the resulting corner but failed to find the target with a glancing header.
A couple of further chances fell the way of Tumilty, but he was unable to add to his 33 league goals this season.
A teasing Jordon Cook free-kick was met by the head of Neal Bussey for the visitors, but his diving header failed to find the target.
West End continued to pile the pressure of FC, and the crossbar came to the saviour of the hosts in the 79th minute. Coils failed to collect a corner after committing, and it found Keithley at the back post whose header clipped the crossbar on its way over.
Keithley forced a good save from Coils in the 82nd minute, and at this point, it looked as though FC were going to hold on.
They had a great chance to put the game to bed with less than two minutes to play. West End dangerously played the ball across their own penalty area and Daniel Maddison collected possession. He drilled a low effort, but Pickering’s save kept West End’s hope alive.
Cassidy forced a superb save from Coils in the 90th minute, but West End deservedly pulled level from the resulting corner. A scramble in the penalty area saw the ball bounce off the post. Hartlepool were desperately trying to clear their lines, but the ball fell to Forster who blasted home.
The result sees Hartlepool climb to seventh, while Sunderland West End will finish the season in third place.
Full-time: Hartlepool FC 1-1 Sunderland West End
Next up for me is a game on Saturday although I don’t know where!
Hartlepool FC: Coils, Donaghy, Campbell, Cook, Cope, Fielding, Connolly (Maddison, 46′), Osbourne (Naylor, 46′), Tumilty, Campion, Snowdon
Unused subs: Garthwaite, McLeod
Sunderland West End: Pickering, Gordon, Taylor, Drysdale, Forster, Cook, Bussey, Keithley, Mark Robinson, Smith (c), Cassidy
Subs (all unused): Dan Robinson, Thompson, Wilson
Admission: £2 adults, £1 concessions
Cup of tea and Mars Bar: £1.20
Referee: Paul Cooper