Scoring goals is an issue admits beaten Sunderland boss O’Neill

POOLS SCORER: Steve Howard
POOLS SCORER: Steve Howard

MARTIN O’Neill was quick to point out that pre-season results don’t count for too much in the wake of last night’s 1-0 defeat to Hartlepool United.

But he was equally quick to point out that he was disappointed with the quality of his side’s performance at Victoria Park.

And disappointed that his team could not produce a win in front of a crowd in which away fans outnumbered the home support.

“The main thing about pre-season is the quality of the work-out and from that point of view it was a good exercise for us,” he said.

“But I didn’t think we played particularly well.

“Hartlepool were good and provided a good test for us but we needed to be better than we were and we will be.

“We will now look to work on fitness and passages of play and I know that we’ll be better again against Helsingborg and better than that again when it comes to the final two warm-up games against Derby County and Leicester City.”

O’Neill watched his side under-perform in the first-half, improve after the break but be unable to make anything of a number of chances that fell their way to cancel out Hartlepool striker Steve Howard’s early strike.

“Goals are an issue for us,” he acknowledged. “You only have to look at our record from last season to know that it was an area in which we struggled – no-one in the club managed to get into double figures in terms of goals scored.

“So it is an area we are looking to improve upon and work at.

“I have to say that the Hartlepool goalkeeper pulled off some terrific saves but we should have been better.

“The whole point of these games is that they improve your squad’s fitness by another level each time, and at the same time they give you food for thought, things you can be pleased with and areas you can improve on.”