Hartlepool United have occupied the relegation zone for the majority of the 2014/15 season but, like many teams before them, they are now surging towards safety.Rewind to Tuesday 21st October, when Hartlepool travelled to Accrington Stanley. Pools slipped to a 3-1 defeat – 14 games played, nine lost, and into the bottom two. Four days later, and they sank to the bottom of Sky Bet League 2 after a 2-1 loss at Cambridge United.
Even the most pessimistic of Hartlepool fans wouldn’t have expected their side to prop the table up for so long – the North East outfit are still sat 24th, five months on.
This weekend, however, when Cambridge visit Victoria Park, Pools could finally get themselves off the bottom and, more importantly, out of the relegation zone.
Ronnie Moore, who arrived in December to turn the club’s fortunes around, has guided his squad to three straight wins, collecting three clean sheets, and they are now just one point from safety.
It’s a remarkable run but, based on recent years, it may not come as too much of a surprise. For the past four seasons, no side in the bottom two at Christmas has been relegated from The Football League.
In 2010/11, Barnet and Hereford United were the two sides most fearing for their survival over the festive period, but a strong second half of the year saw them to safety, with the Bees leapfrogging Stockport County on the final day of the season.
Plymouth Argyle and Dagenham & Redbridge were off the pace in the next campaign but they climbed to 21st and 19th respectively. Macclesfield Town, who were 15th at Christmas, went down alongside Hereford.
The 2012/13 season saw Bristol Rovers and AFC Wimbledon in trouble at the half-way stage, but the Pirates had stormed to 14th by the last day. The Dons were still in the bottom two going into the final fixture, but they got the three points they needed to survive, sending Barnet down with Aldershot Town.
And who could forget last term? At Christmas, Northampton Town held up the table, with Bury keeping them company in the bottom two. Wycombe Wanderers were comfortably mid-table, and Bristol Rovers were 18th. Twenty-five games later, the Shakers were 12th, and the other three were left to battle it out to stay in The Football League.
The Cobblers had lost just three games since February, and a last-day triumph over Oxford United kept them safe, while Wycombe recorded a 3-0 win at Torquay to send Rovers down in dramatic fashion, following their defeat against Mansfield Town.
So the omens are certainly good for Hartlepool - and Moore's former club Tranmere Rovers for that matter, who sat 23rd on Christmas Day - as the survival scrap looks set to go down to the wire once more.
You can see all the drama unfold by following goal updates on our divisional Twitter feed – @SkyBetLeague2.