Adversity brings out the best in Hartlepool United, but that is nothing to be proud of - Liam Donnelly.

Liam Donnelly in action at Portsmouth. Picture by Lawrence Smith/AHPIX.com.
Liam Donnelly in action at Portsmouth. Picture by Lawrence Smith/AHPIX.com.

Adversity brings out the best in Hartlepool United, according to Liam Donnelly.

But if Pools are to do more than just survive in League Two they need to alter that all too familiar situation.

We have been right up against it when we have performed best

Time and time again, with their backs to the wall Pools have produced this season.

It seems to take a siege mentality at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, with little to no hope and the odds stacked against them for players to stand up and be counted.

Few gave them any chance of a result at Yeovil back in September just days after a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Stevenage. But somehow they contrived to produce a match-winning performance.

Similarly at Plymouth, Pools were written off and came within minutes of a memorable win at the then fourth tier table toppers.

Portsmouth was another example of this. With off field talk dominating the run up to the game Pools answered their critics with a battling, character-laden show in securing a 0-0 draw.

While Donnelly is proud of the way Pools have performed on their travels this season, and when things aren’t going their way, he is frustrated it seems to take hardship and strife to draw the best from the players.

And if Pools are to get anywhere hear their original aim of a play-off place this campaign, that is a mindset that has to change.

“We don’t make it easy for ourselves,” said the Northern Irishman ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Crawley Town.

“We have been right against it when we have performed best.

“It shouldn’t take us getting to that point, though.

“It should not take a big team coming or a trip away for us to show we can dig in. We need to do it against everyone.

“Any team can beat any team on their day in this league. It is very tight like that.

“We have shown we can get a result against any team at this level, but we need to every week.”

As mentioned it has often been on their travels where Pools have been at their best - the draw, after falling behind twice at Accrington is recent testament to that.

Nothing would give Donnelly greater pleasure than if Pools continue to keep their fine away form going at the Broadfield Stadium.

“At the start of the season we were good on the road,” he said.

“Then we let it slip. But lately we have shown we can go away to the top sides like Portsmouth and get something.

“Accrington was positive, too, coming from behind.

“Hopefully we don’t need to do something similar tomorrow.”

Much talk has been of Pools indifferent form this campaign.

For every impressive win and performance there seems to be a capitulation just around the corner.

Donnelly hopes those days are behind Pools now.
“We went through a very difficult period - poor results and poor performances were costing us,” he said, following on from last weekend’s disappointing home loss to Grimsby Town.

“It feels like we might be through the worst of it, even though we are still disappointed the way that results have panned out lately.

“The performances have improved, though.

“What we need to do now is improve results but keep the level of performance up. That is something we have not been able to do so far this season.

“It feels like we are going in the right direction.”

This weekend is no ordinary trip for Northern Ireland Under-21 skipper Donnelly.

The versatile defender spent three months on loan at Crawley at the start of last season, making 12 appearances for the club in total.

Out of contract in the summer Donnelly has revealed that a move back to the club was never really on the table due to a regime change, although the 20-year-old admits he did enjoy his time down south.

And he will be pleased to see a few familiar faces on his return.

He said: “I was there for a few months last year, while at Fulham. It was a good experience for me to get out and play some games.

“The loan ended and then a new manager came in and new owners - so there was no word ever came back to me about making permanent.

“I enjoyed my time there. It was a good experience.

“They are a better team now than they were when I was there. They have improved a lot.

“There are still a few of the lads there so it will be good to see them all.”