Hartlepool United’s ex-Middlesbrough star Matthew Bates wants right level from Pools

Matthew Bates: Leading by example. Picture by FRANK REID

Matthew Bates: Leading by example. Picture by FRANK REID

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Matthew Bates is probably already there, but Hartlepool United’s stand-in skipper is looking to see the team find the right “level.”

Bates has been outstanding at the heart of the Pools defence in a run of great consistency.

We can take confidence from that and take it into Notts County

MATTHEW BATES

But Pools, as a side, have seen their displays fluctuate wildly.

And Bates is looking to see Pools carry the form they displayed in Saturday’s heartbreaking defeat to Plymouth into the Boxing Day date with Notts County at Victoria Park.

“I think the performance needs to be the same as against Plymouth,” said the 29-year-old. “We’ve been too up and down too often this season

“We have been really good one game but then really poor the next and so on.

“We have gone from a poor performance against Salford, but winning, to a good performance on Saturday, but losing.

“We need to find a level of performance that we are capable of every week and we are not doing that at the minute.

“I thought we were great on Saturday, but we could not see it out and individual errors cost us.

“I’ve said it before that there is nothing in the league – look at Saturday we could have beaten a team who have gone top of the division.

“We can take confidence from that and take it into Notts County.”

It was the third home League Two game in a row that Pools have found themselves up against promotion favourites.

Pools turned it on in the first of the three fixtures, beating Leyton Orient 3-1 before outplaying Oxford United, only to lose 1-0.

While Pools may not have outplayed Plymouth on Saturday, they weere certainly competitive with Argyle very grateful to snatch it at the death, 2-1.

“It was a great team performance – on all over the pitch,” said Bates.

“To get that sucker punch at the end and lose was hard to take.

“We have to produce the same sort of effort but show more guile.”

Notts County are no Plymouth, having taken just three points out of a possible 18 on the road, though it’s down to Pools to produce the goods.

Bates is certainly producing the goods and was handed the leader’s armband last weekend.

In the absence of club captain Billy Paynter, who is out until February with Achilles trouble, Carl Magnay had led the side.

However, Magnay missed the match against the Pilgrims with a groin strain, with boss Ronnie Moore installing Bates as skipper.

The former Middlesbrough star says he’s not a bawler and prefers to lead from the front, so-to-speak,

“I have been captain of this club before and other teams I’ve played for,” said Bates, who hopes to shake off toe and Achilles problems. “I just try to lead by example.

“I am not really a shouter or screamer, there are different ways to be captain.

“Different leaders have different characteristics, I just try to do the right thing on the pitch.”

Magnay should be fit for Saturday’s home game, leaving Moore to choose between the pair, should Bates be OK.