Rock bottom Hartlepool might need a Christmas miracle

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FEW games in League 1 can be dubbed David vs Goliath, but when a team with one defeat in 10 take on a team who have lost eight times in the same stretch, MK Dons against Hartlepool deserves that moniker.

Despite going down 3-2 to Brentford last Saturday, the Dons camp is still full of confidence coming off the back of a terrific 10 game run which featured seven victories.

After stuttering their way through October, Dons launched themselves back into title contention in November – a period which also saw manager Karl Robinson nominated for the League 1 Manager of the Month prize.

Now just four points from the summit, Dons look ideally placed to mount a serious title challenge as the second half of the season approaches.

Hartlepool on the other hand are rock bottom of the pile. Sitting 11 points from safety, and eight points behind Scunthorpe who sit just one place above them, Pool have picked up just one win all season.

Since taking over at the helm, John Hughes has seen his side defeated three our of the last four games, most recently a 2-0 home defeat to Stevenage.

Last season, it was a tale of two draws. The opening day of the season saw Dons share a 2-2 draw with Pool. James Poole thought he’d won it for the visitors at stadium:mk with an 85th minute goal, but no-one told Jabo Ibehre as he netted an equaliser in the last minute.

A fine Jay O’Shea effort rescued a point at Victoria Park in March’s 1-1 draw, as Dons once again fell behind to a James Poole strike.

This time around though, things are likely to be different. Dons have been pretty consistent when it has come to finding the back of the net this season, while Hartlepool are struggling to find their feet under new manager Hughes.

But Karl Robinson believes the former Hibs man will turn the struggling side around.

He said: “We had them watched over the last three games, and they play very good football. John Hughes is a very good manager who I believe will do a great job at Hartlepool.

“It has been tough for him so far, but he will galvanise them for the tie here. This place is like Wembley for a lot of teams because of the stadium, and it’s our job to act like a team what wants to go up.

“They’re not the side he took over. I don’t know what they’re going to do here, but we know what they’ve done previously. If they try and shut up shop, that’s completely against what they’ve been trying to do recently so hopefully it’ll be an interesting game on Saturday.”