We travelled to Hartlepool FC with confidence restored following the weekend win over Whitehaven. Hartlepool have started the Season well with only one defeat to date and that against Redcar Athletic while also beating League leaders Sunderland West End in the Cup.
Stockton saw Tom Coulthard return to the starting eleven for the first time since the last game of last Season, Louis Whensley came in at Right Back for his first start and there were three of last year’s U18’s starting the game in Matty Lovatt, Joe Scaife Wheatley and Liam Jordan.
The game started with Hartlepool firmly on the front foot with some sharp incisive passing that had Stockton pinned back, but there only real efforts in this spell came from distance with only one troubling Liam Jordan in Stockton’s goal. The opening goal came in the 21st minute when Tom Coulthard collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty box and set off up field, despite the attention of a number of Hartlepool defenders he broke into the Hartlepool penalty area and as the keeper came out to collect Coulthard nipped the ball away, with the Hartlepool keeper coming through to upend the Stockton defender after his run of 70 yards. Kallum Hannah placed the ball and beat the keeper to his left hand side. Hartlepool were a threat to Stockton on the break and forced a number of corners with the strong wind at their backs but never managed to produce an effort on goal. The 34th minute saw the goal of the game, Joe Scaife Wheatley picked up the ball on the right, drifted inside before floating an exquisite pass into Kallum Hannah, the Stockton forward spun to the by line before crossing low and hard for Chris Stockton to fire home at the back post.
Stockton started the second half where they finished the first in control of possession and the game and they had squandered a number of chances before Max Craggs got Stockton’s third of the evening on 62 minutes when heading home from a right wing cross. Tony Johnson had come on to replace Kallum Hannah up front and the nature of his hold up play was causing Hartlepool even more problems and another fine move on 74 minutes sealed Stockton’s victory. Ben Priestley picked up the ball just inside Hartlepool’s half and running at the Hartlepool defence beat 2 men, exchanged passes with Max Craggs before finding Tony Johnson 15 yards out who made no mistake with a right foot finish.
Next up for Stockton is a trip to Prudhoe Town who were the only Club to beat us in our last League campaign. Kick off is 2 30pm on Saturday 29th August.