RONNIE Moore defended his decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation – and insists it CAN work for Hartlepool United if his players do the basics right.
Pools were beaten 1-0 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park thanks to a 60th minute header from Matt Tubbs to see the gap to safety increase to nine points.
It was a poor game, with toothless Pools failing to manage a single shot on target.
But Moore, who had switched from a 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2, believes it is a system that can work, if the strikers can hold the ball up better.
The Pools boss was also critical of his side’s sloppy play in possession in front of a bumper crowd of nearly 15,000.
On the new-look formation, Moore said: “We were poor up front and gave the ball away far too easily.
“If you keep giving the ball away then the midfield three won’t get on the ball and the wing backs never get into the game.
“We knew Portsmouth would play that too and we matched them up.
“It went to plan for the early part of the game but we didn’t use the ball well and were sloppy in possession.
“If the two strikers don’t get hold of the ball then you will always be in trouble.
“I was pleased with how we coped with the atmosphere.
“It is brilliant here and that must give them a huge boost week in, week out.
“We started well enough and they were getting on their backs, we just needed to stay in the game.
“It was just disappointing in the way we conceded the goal – they were allowed to get the ball across and we were asleep and the smallest man on the pitch is allowed to jump and get the header.
“That is a soul destroyer for us.”
The goal aside, Moore was pleased with his side’s defending.
He added: “I was pleased in the way we got bodies and stopped shots coming in but not pleased with our application on the ball, that needed to be better.
“I don’t care what formation you play, if you don’t pass the ball well and hold it up then it doesn’t matter.
“There are so many top clubs play that system.
“[Plymouth Argyle boss] John Sheridan came to our place recently and switched to 4-4-2 - and probably regretted it.
“There is scope for us to play that formation.”
The emergency loan window opens today but Moore was not expecting any further signings before the visit of Northampton Town tomorrow night.
Moore told SportMail: “I don’t think there will be any new incomings, not before tomorrow night.
“We will have to go with what we have got and then see what we do.”
Meanwhile, Moore confirmed winger Jack Compton is not injured, he was just not selected for the matchday squad at Fratton Park.
On deadline day Pools held talks over a loan swap deal involving Compton and Bristol Rovers’s ex-Pools forward Andy Monkhouse but the deal didn’t go through.
During the match, with Pools having failed to register a single shot on target, Compton made reference to it on Twitter which later sparked an angry response from team-mate Scott Harrison after the game.
Both messages were later deleted.