Hartlepool Utd’s hard work pays off for Middlesbrough goal hero Collins

Sam Collins scores Pools equaliser.

Sam Collins scores Pools equaliser.

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GOAL-hero Sam Collins believes Hartlepool United’s punishing pre-season training schedule is now reaping its rewards on the pitch, writes CRAIG HOPE.

Pools were trailing 2-1 entering the final throes of last night’s friendly against Middlesbrough when the skipper charged upfield to connect with Jonathan Franks’ corner and salvage a well-earned draw for the hosts.

The result made it two unbeaten for Collins and co following their 1-0 success over Sunderland, and the centre-back believes things are beginning to come together at Victoria Park.

“Things are progressing very well,” the captain told SportMail today.

“We’ve been worked pretty hard during pre-season but we’re obviously reaping the benefits.
“You saw last night against a good footballing side we didn’t look tired and we kept going until the end and we got our equaliser, which was nice.

“We did very well against a good Premier League team a few days earlier and got a good win.

“It was different against Middlesbrough, they were smaller and liked to pass it about and we really had to work hard.

“But that’s what it’s all about and you can see how much better we’ve got as pre-season has gone on.”

Collins’ goal came 10 minutes from time and owed much to the confusion caused by the presence of team-mate Steve Howard.

And that is a tactic which the 35-year-old believes could pay dividends this season.

“For the goal I just got away from Rhys Williams, held him off and managed to time my run right and get my big head on the end of it,” he said.

“But big Stevie was in there and they couldn’t handle him all night, he was superb.

“We’re not just launching balls into him, it’s about more than that because he can hold it so well.

“But he doesn’t given anyone a minute and we’ve got to use that to our advantage.

“If that means goals like last night where the likes of myself can get in because of him then great.”