Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett urges his side: Don’t be the nearly men

Craig Hignett watches his side overcome Accrington Stanley on Tuesday. Picture by Frank Reid
Craig Hignett watches his side overcome Accrington Stanley on Tuesday. Picture by Frank Reid
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Craig Hignett has tasked his Hartlepool United players with dropping their tag as League Two’s nearly men.

This campaign for Pools has brought many false dawns.

For every spirited show at Plymouth or comfortable win at Grimsby, there has been a Barnet capitulation or Stevenage embarrassment.

The common denominator this season has been that Pools look like I side who should be fighting with the big boys in the fourth tier.

But all too often, defensive errors and a lack concentration and application has let them down.

Hignett wants his squad to prove their doubters wrong.

He is desperate to see his players get in and among the play-off mix, even though many think they lack the consistency to do so.

“I don’t want to be the nearly men,” said the manager.

“We have to learn why we drop points like we do. When we do that, we will be up there.

“(At) Plymouth we were outstanding, Carlisle we didn’t switch on to set-pieces, Barnet, OK a poor refereeing decision, but I said after then if we can find a way to lose a game we will find it.

“We have to start winning games when we are dominating them.

“That’s the message.

“With the ball, I know what we can do, it’s without the ball and keeping the concentration levels up for 90 minutes – do that and who knows what we are capable of.”

Pools now sit in the middle of the League Two standings, four points off the play-offs and four off the relegation zone.

This could be a turning point for the club, says Hignett.

He feels a run now could cement Pools’ place in the upper echelons of the division.

“It’s nuts – the league is so tight,” he said.

“That’s why you can go anywhere and we can give anyone a game.

“I’m confident we can go on a run at some stage and I think that run is now.

“If we do, we will find ourselves in a play-off spot or better.

“We’re a bit disappointed with the points we have.

“We feel we should have 10 more, at least.

“That would put us in a strong position in the league.

“While we have been hit and miss, we are not too far away.”