Joe Ramage: Hartlepool United’s Football League status may rest on positive conclusion to 2022

I, for one, hold a strict December policy on such matters. However, Hartlepool United’s current plight means it’s worth addressing what is often a significant time of the year for any team.

While the World Cup continues out in Qatar, and England’s stay in the Middle-East is hopefully a prolonged one, Hartlepool’s season, and subsequent Football League status, could well be determined by what happens over the final five weeks of 2022.

It’s a significant month for Hartlepool United in League Two. (Credit: Michael Driver | MI News)

But while maintaining that Killip is down the list when it comes to the issues at Hartlepool, he was guilty for what transpired at Holker Street when gifting Barrow the opportunity to open the scoring inside four minutes – an opportunity they duly obliged in taking.

The second half stifling of the Bluebirds was immaterial as results elsewhere plunged Keith Curle’s side back to the bottom of the League Two table. And, unless there is a significant upturn in form, it is a position they will struggle to remove themselves from come the end of the season.

Statistically, and in terms of points, there have been small, marginal, elements of improvement in Hartlepool under Curle. But, unfortunately, those fragile signs are too infrequent and are without enough substance to see Hartlepool out of trouble, particularly with teams around them picking up points.

Hartlepool United were well beaten by Barrow at Holker Street. (Credit: Michael Driver | MI News)

Harrogate Town and Colchester United both secured substantial 3-0 victories at the weekend over Mansfield Town and Doncaster Rovers respectively while Newport County edged past Gillingham.

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Both Harrogate and Newport, along with Rochdale and Crawley Town, are four of Hartlepool’s next six opponents taking us into the New Year. If Curle is to have any hope of fulfilling his belief that he can keep Hartlepool up, then this run of games is absolutely critical, you feel, to that.

Hartlepool have already won one and lost one with Harrogate this season, their third installment to come in the FA Cup this weekend. But by the time the full-time whistle blows against them on New Year’s Day we will have a much clearer picture of both Hartlepool’s fate and the amount of squad surgery required in the January transfer window.

Dave Challinor’s Stockport County and a play-off chasing Mansfield are the two outstanding fixtures in December, both of which take place at the Suit Direct Stadium.

Much like in a World Cup, we can all get our charts out and predict scores ahead of time. But for Hartlepool, it is essential they find some kind of form through this upcoming end of the year period. For there may not be a fixture in the 2023 Football League if not.

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