AlessandraSwitch setsforward ongoal trail
Is Dave Jones a skilled manager or a lucky one?
Probably both, but the wily old bird would be quick to tell a cheeky and talentless local reporter that he has tons of talent and any good fortune has been earned.
But two of Hartlepool United’s in-form performers are players who are getting selected out of position, and all down to an injury to Matthew Bates.
Brad Walker had been hogging the headlines after his seamless switch from the middle of midfield to the heart of the defence.
The 20-year-old was sent by Jones to play alongside Scott Harrison following the sight of Bates limping off.
A by-product of Matty’s departure and Walker’s ‘transfer’ was the short journey of Lewis Alessandra from an advanced role to midfield.
And what a move.
Two goals from the middle of the park against Crewe were followed by two beauties from the left of midfield in the 3-1 win over Exeter City, a fightback victory which sent the Northern Gas & Power faithful into a frenzy.
What has happened to Lewis Alessandra?
“Until the last 10 minutes or so against Exeter, I’ve played the last few games in the centre of midfield,” he said.
“You just find yourself arriving in areas a little bit later and facing the goal.
“If you are playing up front, sometimes you are with your back to goal laying it off for other people.
“I just think it’s been a case of me having chances in games and taking them.
“Previously, maybe it’s been poor finishing, which has happened before and been frustrating for me.
“I think it’s maybe been a turn of luck, instead of being blocked and me missing the target, it’s now going into the net which is nice.”
Alessandra has jumped from four goals to eight for the season in a heartbeat.
But the player himself, for all the personal pride, insists it is what it has done for the team and club which is paramount.
“I’m delighted,” he said. “I think I have doubled my goal tally within five days!
“Where we are in the table the most important thing is winning games.
“The way we started the match, and probably the first 60 minutes, we were poor.
“I was grim and similar to the other night except that we’d scored first against Crewe just before half-time which changed the complexion of the game.
“So to then go and win comfortably in the end was very pleasing.
“But if you said ‘would you rather play well for 90 minutes and draw or play the way we did and come away with a 3-1 win?’ I’m sure you’d know the one I’d pick.”
Every single goal netted by Pools was an exquisite strike.
The first, from Alessandra, was volleyed in from six yards in the 66th minute after Nathan Thomas’s wayward shot was deflected int the path of Lewis.
Pools turned defence into attack for the second three minutes later, Rhys Oates shugging off Troy James in the centre of the park before teeing up Padraig Amond who blasted past Bobby Olejnik from 14 yards.
Another quality strike sealed the deal in the first minute of injury tme, Alessandra beating three men after coming off the left touchline, scoring with his right foot from 18 yards.
“The first sort of fell to me, there was pace on the ball and I just angled it in the direction [of goal],” he said modestly.
“It was quite a tight angle and I was just delighted it went in to get us back in the game and lifted the crowd and everyone.
“We needed that, we were poor, and you could understand the fans getting restless.
“Oatesy then did wonders for Podge’s goal.
“For the third, my initial reaction was to take it down the line because I knew we were coming to the end of the 90 minutes, get the ball in an area which wasn’t dangerous to us. But I felt myself coming inside and kept coming and coming!
“I got within shooting distance and let fly, I think the keeper was a bit unsighted and it flew in at his near post. It was game, set and match.”