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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Doncaster can inflict final blow on sinking Hartlepool

Pools preparing to take the plunge

Tommy Rowe's Doncaster could finish their campaign with a win
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Sky Bet League Two
Sky Sports 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Hartlepool have picked up only two points from their last eight Sky Bet League Two games, leaving them teetering on the brink of relegation from the Football League.

Pools’ slump has coincided with a spirited run of form from Newport County, who kick off the final day with a two-point lead in the scrap for survival.

That means Hartlepool need a victory over Doncaster to give themselves any chance of escape – and that task is made harder by the fact that Donny are in a three-way battle for the title.

Darren Ferguson’s men could easily have sealed top spot by now – they clinched promotion on April 8 but have taken only one point from their next four games.

Those fixtures came against teams battling for the playoffs – Colchester, Blackpool, Wycombe and Exeter – while Hartlepool’s recent defeats have included losses to doomed Leyton Orient and 20th-placed Cheltenham.

Doncaster need a better result than Plymouth manage away to Grimsby and their record against teams in the bottom ten is excellent: P19 W14 D4 L1.

Winning promotion rather than the title is clearly the priority for Football League clubs but Donny will be keen to end their campaign with a victory and their hosts’ plight could play into their hands.

Hartlepool must be positive but that approach is hardly second nature for a side who have scored four times in their last eight games and Doncaster, whose striker John Marquis is chasing the Golden Boot, could condemn the Pools to non-league football.

2pts 19-20 Ladbrokes

Team news
Liam Donnelly is back from a ban and Nathan Thomas is hoping to recover from a knee problem but Kenton Richardson (ankle) is likely to miss out.

Andy Williams could return to the starting 11, and Gary McSheffrey, Alfie May and Liam Mandeville also pushing for recalls. Mathieu Baudry remains sidelined.

Key stat
Hartlepool have scored only four goals in their last eight league games 

Hartlepool need a victory over Doncaster to have any chance of escape – and Donny are in a three-way battle for the title
E.W. Terms
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