A strong spine for Hartlepool United will be key to survival

New Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore during the game against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID
New Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore during the game against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID

A STRONG spine throughout the Hartlepool United team will be key in the fight for survival, insists boss Ronnie Moore.

Moore said reducing the gap to safety to single figures has “boosted” his squad, but he admitted nobody is getting carried away following last weekend’s 2-0 win over Cheltenham.

It was the club’s first victory in 13 Sky Bet League Two matches and Moore put the victory down to the strong performances of the spine of his side.

On-loan Sunderland defender Scott Harrison has forged a promising partnership with Dan Jones at the back, while midfielders Michael Woods and Reading loanee Aaron Tshibola dictated play.

Up front, strikers Scott Fenwick and Rakish Bingham played together for the first time and both scored to cap off an impressive performance, which left Pools seven points from safety.

“If you look at the two centre halves, the two central midfielders and the two strikers – that is the strength of the team,” Moore told SportMail.

“If they all play and turn up, then you will get the type of results we got against Cheltenham.

“I thought Woodsy settled us down and got on the ball and kept it well and nine times out of ten he will pick the right pass.

“The two centre backs look like they have all the experience in the world. It is nice when you have one left-sided [Jones] as there is a good balance about the team then and they compliment each other well.

“Those two have done well again, as did the spine of the team.

“That is key.”

On the rare occasions Pools have taken the lead in games they have a tendency to drop deep and invite pressure.

But they played higher up the pitch against Cheltenham and Moore said it is vital to keep the right defensive shape when they do go in front, with Moore again concerned that Michael Duckworth bursts forward at the wrong times.

He added: “It was nice when the second one went in because we didn’t go too deep.

“We knew they would throw people at us at some stage of the game and I’d said that to the back four, because our full backs - sorry a full back - was bombing on and we had three against three at times.

“We have to learn to keep it tight.”

Next up for bottom-side Pools are difficult back-to-back away games at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday and Tranmere Rovers the following weekend.

Moore had been openly critical of the players but said there was a different feel to the dressing room at the weekend.

“I always thought Cheltenham was a game we could win but I did against Morecambe and we never turned up then,” Moore told SportMail.

“It was a lively dressing room before the game and it was fantastic at the end.

“But we haven’t won anything - we have won one game.

“We have got ourselves in a mire, can we get ourselves out of it?

“There are some big games against those teams still to come.

“But it is nice when the gap [to safety] is down to single figures and not double figures.

“It gives you a little boost.”