Hartlepool boss says defence is not the problem now

Craig Hignett

Craig Hignett

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It’s been difficult to make a case for the defence at Hartlepool United this season.

But manager Craig Hignett says a resurgence in the backline in recent weeks has seen his concerns shift elsewhere in the XI.

As a back three and four they dealt with a lot of set-pieces.

While Pools conceded two disappointing goals at Adams Park at the weekend, the back three, which then switched to a four after 40 minutes, was on the whole impressive.

Toto Nsiala was a towering figure, battling for every ball with Ade Akinfenwa. Scott Harrison was comfortable not only with the ball at his feet, but also when faced with a winger after his switch to the right of the four.

And Matthew Bates, after a couple of off games, was back to his very best, marshaling things from deep and leading by example.

Hignett says he was impressed by the way his team defending, even if the first goal, scored by Scott Kashket, was particularly disappointing.

Speaking of his central defensive three, the gaffer said: “They did really well.

“As a back three and four they dealt with a lot of set-pieces.

“The first goal was particularly disappointing. We have three defenders playing in the middle and the lad has been able to take a touch, turn and get a shot off before anyone got anywhere near him.

“It was purely a lack of concentration.

“But they put us under a lot of pressure defensively and I thought we dealt with most of what they threw at us.

“They put balls into Akenfenwa, but we knew they were going to do that. It’s what they do.

“We did well defensively.”

Hignett was not so complimentary of his team in an attacking sense, though, which has been one of the team’s real strengths so far this season.

The manager thinks his players let themselves down in the final third.

“I thought we would be better with the ball because we know we are,” he said.

“Sadly in the last two games we have been not as good as we know we can be.

“We played some good stuff all the way up to our final ball.

“That’s when we let ourselves down.

“We got into some good positions in the game but we didn’t really create any clear cut chances.

“That’s not good enough, really.”