Craig Hignett looking to replicate Crewe Alexandra philosophy at Hartlepool United

Billy Paynter scores
Billy Paynter scores
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Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett is looking forward to a return to Crewe Alexandra tonight.

Hignett began his playing career at Gresty Road in 1988 before moving on to the likes of Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers and says a return to his former stomping ground was a fixture he highly-anticipated.

The trip to Crewe marks Hartlepool’s second away game in four days after the mammoth trip to Exeter City on Saturday.

And while the Pools boss will look forward to a trip to Cheshire, he is well aware of the threat Steve Davis’ side can pose and confesses he would like to build a similar structure to that, which has seen the Railwaymen produce a high calibre of players.

“Going back to Crewe will be good, it’s one of the first games I looked for when the fixtures came out,” he said.

“It’s been a while since I was there, but there’s not many there left from my time.

“Dario (Gradi, Director of Football) is still there, he’s part of the furniture and I’ll catch up with a few old friends when I’m there.

“In some ways I’m trying to copy them here and build a philosophy and put a structure in place.

“Going back there will be a really good thing.”

Victory over the Grecians lifted Pools to sixth in League Two at this early stage - level on points with Crewe.

Second half strikes from Michael Woods and Billy Paynter sealed victory against an Exeter side intent on playing attractive football, and Hignett is expecting the same tonight (kick-off 7.45pm): “It will be a real football match.

“Exeter like to pass the ball around, and Crewe are the same.

“They have so many players who all play in the same way, they have a plan and a structure.”