John Askey feels for ‘loyal and great’ supporters as Hartlepool relegated

·3-min read
Martin Rickett/PA Wire

John Askey felt for Hartlepool’s supporters after watching the team suffer a second relegation to the National League in seven years.

Despite beating Barrow 3-1 at the Suit Direct Stadium, Pools’ stay in the Football League came to an end after just two seasons at that level.

That was because Crawley’s goalless draw with Walsall meant Hartlepool can no longer catch them ahead of next weekend’s trip to promotion-chasers Stockport.

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Hartlepool boss Askey said: “It is upsetting to be in this position, more upsetting for the supporters than myself, you feel for them.

“For them to stay and clap the players off at the end shows what loyal and great supporters they are, they didn’t need to do that. I have never been in this position before and I don’t want to feel it again.”

Ged Garner had put Barrow in front in the 21st minute when he turned in Josh Gordon’s cross, but Jack Hamilton fired high into the net from close range three minutes before the break to level.

Hartlepool then took the lead with 22 minutes remaining when Jamie Sterry’s cross evaded everyone and bounced straight in before Connor Jennings powered a third home from inside the area.

Barrow had already been reduced to 10 men by the time of Jennings’ goal after Harrison Neal picked up a second yellow card, and the visitors finished the match with only eight players as Gordon hobbled off before Patrick Brough was shown a red card following a melee.

Askey added: “It showed our frailties with conceding the goal we did. They had six touches before it went in the back of the net, but to come back from a goal down and win in the position we are in shows the supporters the players care.

“I picked a team to go out and play and they did, they were brave, I enjoyed watching them today, we could have scored more. We should have had a blatant penalty, full credit to them but too little too late.”

Barrow boss Pete Wild, whose assistant Adam Temple was booked along with Pools’ coach Antony Sweeney late on, said: “We were a bit disrespectful to Hartlepool, we went 1-0 up and thought it was going to be easy.

“Hartlepool were outstanding, they played with desire, heart and determination – everything we normally are they were today.

“They gave their club everything. We didn’t match that and that is why we were beaten. I apologise to our fans, that wasn’t good enough and I know we only have a week to go but I am not having that.

“I don’t really know what happened at the end. We were down to nine men, had one off injured, and then we got involved in a melee. It sums up today.

“If we had shown the heart and desire in the game rather than in a scrap we might have got a better result.”