Hartlepool boss frustrated by defeat to Notts County

Craig Hignett
Craig Hignett

Craig Hignett was left with thoughts of what might have been after suffering his first defeat as Hartlepool United boss.

Pools put on a poor first-half showing and trailed 2-0 to goals by former Sunderland men Jon Stead and Liam Noble.

As disappointing as the first half was, I was pleased second half we showed a bit fight, character and belief.

It could have been worse but for a bad miss by ex-Pools loanee Jason Banton.

However, as depressing as the opening 45 minutes were the second half was full of spirit as two goals in five minutes by Jake Gray and Billy Paynter brought Pools level.

The hosts looked in the box seat, only to concede a second goal for Stead on 80 minutes.

“It feels so disappointing after such a comeback,” said Hignett.

“When we got it back to 2-2 we were the favourites – only one team was going to win it from there for me.

“As disappointing as the first half was, I was pleased second half we showed a bit fight, character and belief.

“That’s what I want from them.

“In the first half we got caught out - we were trying to play football but there’s a time and a place of it.

“We had our pockets picked for the first goal.

“It was a great finish from Jon Stead, who was t he difference between the sides and we conceded a second.

“It could have been 2-1 at half-time when a ricochet they did not know much about stopped us from scoring.

“At two down, I had to change it and I brought on Lewis Hawkins and changed the shape a little bit.

“Lewis did excellent and we looked a different side in the second half.”

Gray’s 62nd-minute stunner from the right brought Pools back in it and Paynter added his 10th from a Nathan Thomas cross.

Paynter was then unable to convert from a Luke James cross while Gray was inches away from a second and also denied by Roy Carroll.

To rub salt in the wounds, Stead got his second from a corner.

“If we scored I felt Notts County had a soft underbelly and they did,” said Hignett.

“We pressed and pressed, played some decent stuff, got back to 2-2 and then I felt we would win it.

“But Notts County have quality up front and Stead scored again which was disappointing defensively.

“Billy’s chance was one which flashes across the box.

“Did it get caught under his feet, I’m not sure, and it went into the keeper.

“Jake Gray smashed one into the keeper, Nathan Thomas looked like he was going to score.

“There were so many chances and half chances so to come off with nothing was an injustice for us.”