Jonathan Franks striker role again as Hartlepool stick with system

STRIKER ROLE: Jonathan Franks in action against Morecambe.
STRIKER ROLE: Jonathan Franks in action against Morecambe.

JONATHAN Franks looks set for an extended run up front for Hartlepool United – as Ronnie Moore ponders sticking with 3-5-2.

Pools go into tonight’s crunch clash against Oxford United on the back of the 1-0 win at Morecambe, a result which clawed the gap to safety back to six points.

It could be his best spot.

Ronnie Moore

Moore opted to revert to a 3-5-2 formation at the Globe Arena, with Franks partnering on-loan Cambridge United striker Ryan Bird up front.

It was the first time the pair have played together as Moore looks to solve his goalscoring problem.

With top league goalscorer Scott Fenwick still out injured with an ankle knock for at least the next fortnight, Moore is desperate for his remaining fit forwards to go on a scoring run.

Franks, usually deployed on the wing, has six goals to his name this campaign and last scored at the end of January.

But he looks to be given another chance to impress up front tonight against The Us.

Moore told SportMail: “We have tried a few combinations up front and it’s not been right.

“But Franksy got in good areas and we got him on the ball and caused problems for them.

“It could be his best spot.

“He gives us something different coming off their centre-halves into spots and linking up.”

Moore was pleased with how his players fitted into the 3-5-2 formation in the win over Jim Bentley’s Morecambe.

And he looks set to stick with it at The Kassam Stadium tonight.

Moore added: “It worked really well.

“The front men were a threat, we put balls in the box and it would just have been nice to get another goal.

“We had to defend and we defended well.

“The players really threw their bodies on the line – hitting backsides, balls being cleared over the top, Nicky Featherstone at the back stick off the line and Mirf [David Mirfin] got a block to see one over the bar – it’s fantastic to see.

“We were committed and we need it again tonight.

“It would have been nice to have a week to enjoy the [Morecambe] win!”

“But now we have to put ourselves through the whole thing again tonight, at least we have given ourselves a chance.

“We won’t be going to Oxford holding out for a 0-0, we want to go and win 1-0 again – or two or three nil.”

Oxford United, 17th in Sky Bet League Two, drew 0-0 with Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.

Pools (likely 3-5-2): Flinders, Austin, Harrison, Mirfin, Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Walker, Tshibola, Bird, Franks.

Subs (from): Maxted, Richards, Holden, Nearney, Compton, Smith, Hawkins, Compton, Harewood, Morgan.

Oxford (likely): Clarke, Baldock, Mullins, Wright, Skarz, MacDonald, Collins, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Roofe, Hoban.

Subs: Rose, Ashdown, Rasulo, Long, Gnanduillet, Roberts, Dunkley.