Hartlepool star Nathan Thomas gets hour of action

Nathan Thomas on the attack for Pools reserves against Mansfield. Picture by STU NORTON
Nathan Thomas on the attack for Pools reserves against Mansfield. Picture by STU NORTON

Nathan Thomas got 60 minutes under his belt for Hartlepool United’s second string in their 2-1 win over Mansfield Town.

And coach Sam Collins believes despite the heavy pitch and difficult conditions at Billingham Town, it will have done the former Sunderland trainee the world of good as he bids to return to Pools first-team.

Coming back from his injury it is obvious that he needed gametime.

“Nathan has got 60 minutes under his belt and it would have been tough with him because of the pitch,” he said.

“It was really heavy.

“Coming back from his injury it is obvious that he needed gametime.

“We had to be careful because of the pitch but it will do him good because it tested him.

“It will have done him good.”

Thomas, who was yet to start a game since October due to a groin problem which required an operation, was right in the action, winning the spot-kick that brought about the opener on the half hour.

A typical darting run down the left drew Tom Sloane into a challenge and Thomas went tumbling.

One of four trialists named in the starting XI -Tyler Harvey - stepped up to slot home.

Harvey, who scored twice against Pools in the final game of last season for Plymouth, was hastily registered this week in order to be given a run.

And the frontman, currently of non-league Truro, impressed up top.

Centre-back pairing Craig Reid, 30, formerly of Celtic, Motherwell and Dunfermline, and Tolu Kayode, 26, who has been spent the last four years playing in Sweden and Australia, also put in decent shows, alongside a fourth trialist Eddie Rogerson.

Pools lead was to last just quarter of an hour, as Mansfield skipper Lewis Collins curled in a delightful free-kick for 1-1, with on-loan Middlesbrough keeper Joe Fryer given absolutely no chance.

On a cutting pitch and clearly tiring, Thomas was withdrawn by Collins on the hour mark, Devante Rodney replacing him.

It took Pools until the last minute of regulation time to retake the lead - Josh Hawkes, on as a substitute for Kieran Green, curled in from the edge of the area to ensure the reserves secured all three points.

Collins was delighted to get the win. He was even more pleased for young goalscorer Hawkes.

He said: “He is a very talented kid.

“The gaffer and the rest of the coaching staff have been really impressed with him.

“I said all along that we have some really talented kids coming through.

“For me, we have got to be looking to get them all in the first-team.

“Four or five of them did really well out there - it will be good to see a few of them take that with them on to first-team duties.”