JOHN Hughes admits he would have picked a different team in hindsight for the New Year’s Day defeat to Preston North End.
With Pools having been put through a gruelling 90 minutes at Sheffield United three days earlier – emerging deserved 3-2 winners – Hughes decided to reward the same side who had started at Bramall Lane.
But a jaded home display saw Preston take a 1-0 victory thanks to John Mousinho’s header in first-half stoppage time.
Hughes concedes that he could have changed his side given the proximity of the matches, and uses Simon Walton as an example, the midfielder succumbing to injury early in the second half.
“I could have done things a little bit differently,” he said.
“I made a mistake with Simon – I should have looked at that.
“It’s probably backfired on us a wee bit, playing him two games in such a short period.”
Pools, however, had enjoyed the better of the first half and it was only towards the end of the opening period that Preston threatened.
Scott Flinders saved a Nicky Wroe penalty before Mousinho escaped marker Ritchie Humphreys to nod in the winner from a corner-kick.
And Hughes reflected: “It was a real kick in the teeth the way they scored.
“The way we conceded the corner was disappointing and we’d just given the ball away before that.
“That comes down to the fundamentals of the game.
“We’ve been working hard not to give away set-plays.
“It’s not as if something wonderful beat us – we beat ourselves really.”
He went on: “I thought we were the better team in the first half but we lost our way in the second half.
“I then thought we had a right go late on after the substitutions and we did enough to go and win it.
“We deserved something from the game – where is the luck?
“Why does the ball just not fall to Hartlepool when it’s flying about?
“I know I’m repeating myself but the fans who were there will agree.”