Jake Carroll believes the start will be all-important when Hartlepool Unitedgo to Cambridge United tomorrow.
Pool are looking to regain the form and fortitude which saw them defeat promotion hopefuls Wycombe last Saturday.
As a defender, to come off with a clean sheet is what you wantJAKE CARROLL
That victory, following on from the good performances against Plymouth and Derby, looked like being potential turning point.
But Pools were out of sorts in midweek at Accrington, where they lost 3-1, and need to bounce back at the Abbey Stadium tomorrow.
Carroll, who was one of the stand-out performers in a herculean defensive effort at Victoria Park last week, said Pools were disappointed they could not build on the Wycombe win, which brought so much satisfaction and belief.
“It felt like a long time since we had won a game at home,” he said.
“It was an incredible feeling to come off the pitch knowing that everyone’s put in a shift.
“As a defender, to come off with a clean sheet is what you want.
“I think we carried over the confidence from the Derby game into last Saturday’s match and it was nice to build on it.
“But at Accrington, we didn’t start well and then it was an uphill battle from then on.
“Our confidence was high [after Saturday] and I think we may be just thought things would happen.
“We did not think about them enough, may be if we focused on their threats and what we needed to do to counter them and we’d probably have done better.”
Carroll admits Cambridge will pose a strong challenge tomorrow – the U’s are only three points off the play-offs following a good run under Shaun Derry, who replaced the sacked Richard Money.
And the Irishman could be coming up against his old Huddersfield Town team-mate, Danny Carr, who has just returned to the Abbey Stadium following a loan spell at Aldershot.
“I have a good friend at Cambridge who I played with at Huddersfield,” said the Irishman, who joined Pools on a free transfer from the Terriers in the summer.
“He has been in and out of the team, but I know alot about them.
“They are a big, physical team, like a lot of the sides we’ve faced this season.
“We are going to be in a battle, so we’ll have to match them physically and then hopefully let our football do the talking.
“It’s the way we started against Wycombe which was the key.
“We were bright and got ahead and then battled to stay in front.
“We’ll be looking to do the same at Cambridge.”
Carroll has been the only player to start every Pools game this season – clocking up 30 straight appearances.
He made a bright start to his Pools career, with some strong defensive play including a vital block or two and set up the Capital One Cup upset at Fleetwood where his great free-kick was headed in by Billy Paynter.
He also had an assist in the win at Yeovil, where his free-kick was headed in by Scott Fenwick.
However, the Dubliner saw his form tail off, with boss Ronnie Moore hinting that he was in the market for a new left-back.
But the 24-year-old has found some of his old stuff over the last three matches, much to his satisfaction.
“I’ve been better recently,” he told SportMail.
“I may have got a bit content after a while and did not focus enough, individually, on what I needed to do.
“But the last couple of weeks I’ve kind of re-focused mentally and I feel stronger.
“That has helped me a lot.
“I did hear about what the manager had said, but I’ve just tried to focus on myself and playing well.
“If I do that then it will be hard for him to take me out of the team.
“I don’t think I had been pushing myself like I should have been, but the last couple of games I have been happier with my game.”
In fact, Carroll has played more times for Pools than in the previous three seasons with Huddersfield, Bury and Partick Thistle.
So are there are any regrets from the former Republic of Ireland youth international defender.
“Not at all,,” he said. “I like it here.
“It’s a great change to be playing every week and I hope it continues.”