Oxford United v Hartlepool United: First goal key says Pools boss Craig Hignett

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the 3-1 away win at Barnet, one of Pools' great awaydays.

Picture by Dan Westwell
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the 3-1 away win at Barnet, one of Pools' great awaydays. Picture by Dan Westwell

Craig Hignett is looking to see Hartlepool United come flying out of the blocks tomorrow at Oxford United.

There will be a fair amount of tension at the Kassam Stadium – the U’s are three wins from promotion to League One.

More often than not first goal shapes a game – if you score it you can go on and win it

CRAIG HIGNETT

Anything less than nine points from the last three games and they could well find themselves in the play-offs. Pools have no such pressures and Hignett will be looking to take advantage of any nerves.

Pools are in the strange position of playing four promotion contenders in their last four fixtures.

“You could see what victory meant on Tuesday for Accrington,” said Hignett. “They celebrated like they have won the FA Cup and that’s what it means to people and it should matter.

“There will be jitters in the games to come – if we nick a goal early, the crowd will get on the team’s backs, the players will feel anxious .

“More often than not first goal shapes a game – if you score it you can go on and win it.

“We started really quickly at Morecambe, scored twice in the early stages, and the whole outlook was different.”

Hignett (pictured)has seen some outstanding displays on the road and admits the fact they are away could help, given they have options in the way they approach it.

“Do we allow them to come at us and play on the counter-attack?” said the boss. Or do we press and look to camp in their half?

“Either way, we will give them a real game.”

Oxford boss Michael Appleton has been impressed with the way Pools are playing under Hignett and is braced for a difficult afternoon.

“Craig has got them playing some decent football and they have some legs in the team,” he said.

“They are playing some really good interchange stuff, so it will be a difficult game.

“They lost to Accrington on Tuesday but they are playing with freedom and you can tell in their game.”