Character? Bottle? Hartlepool United have got it in abundance, says defender

Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

Matthew Bates refutes claims Hartlepool United haven’t got the character to turn their current slump around.

The players performance in their five-goal home hammering by Cambridge United has brought many to question whether Pools truly have the stomach for a fight.

There is no excuse

But Bates is certain they have got the mettle, despite recent surrenders against Port Vale in the FA Cup and last weekend at the Vic.

He said: “We have got the character to turn this around.

“It is difficult with the run we are on.

“The young lads we have do have character, but they do not have the experience.

“We need to get that character out of them.

“Character is there, but the experience is not. The only way these lads will get that is by playing games.”

Offering some explanation for the second-half collapse, in which Pools conceded four goals in just 19 minutes, Bates believes it was the team’s attacking intent which aided in taking their eye off the ball.

“The problem was that when we went 1-0 down we panicked,” he said.

“We went in search of an equaliser and then capitulated.

“It is hard to put my finger on why we collapse.

“We have to get back to sticking to a game plan.”

In the run up to the game manager Craig Hignett called for a reaction from his players. Sadly, it was not the reaction he had hoped for. Nor was it what Bates expected.

He continued: “It is hard after last week.

“We got beat like that and we wanted to bounce back. But we couldn’t do that.

“I have been through stages like this in my career where nothing goes our way.

“It is an easy excuse to make, I know that, but three goals were from deflections. It is not down to luck but we need something to go our way.

“There is no excuse.

“I have been trying to look for some but there are none to explain that performance.”

Despite all the negativity around the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, Bates is certain Pools can end their slump, and start looking up the League Two table, rather than down.

“We are on the bad end of a run - we need to get out of it,” he said.

“I am confident we will get out of it.

“We can either hide and capitulate as a group and start blaming each other or we can work together to get out of it.

“We have to work as a group - chairman, manager, players - in order to get out of this, otherwise it could go the other way.”