FIVE issues facing Hartlepool United and Matthew Bates after THIRD straight National League loss
In the space of a week and a half Hartlepool United's loss count has doubled.
Three defeats in 15 National League games has swiftly turned to six in 18 and it seems to be crisis time, on the pitch at least, at Pools.
But where have things gone wrong for manager Matthew Bates and his players? Here we take a look at FIVE issues facing the Hartlepool boss ahead of this weekend’s return to action in the FA Cup and beyond.
*GOALS - HOW DO YOU WIN WITHOUT SCORING?
Two away games in five days and Pools did not hit the net, despite coming close on a number of occasions.
That is a concern.
What is also of immediate concern to Bates is that his three strikers have scored just six times this season - five of those have come from Niko Muir.
The left side has been a problematic area for Pools in recent years and things don’t seem to be getting any better this.
While Mark Kitching is a solid performer, his 6/10 type performances are hardly catching the eye.
While Ryan Donaldson gives as good as he gets going both ways, on the left Pools lack anything resembling an outlet when the ball moves left.
For the trip to Gillingham manager Bates already knew he would be without the services of skipper Andrew Davies.
But what the boss did not account for was that he would also be without Peter Kioso.
That injury leaves Pools short at the back this weekend. Could it see a switch in formation to a four at the back?
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Maybe it would be an enforced change that sparks a reaction.
*BREAKING THE MIDFIELD MALAISE
At the start of the season the combination of Nicky Featherstone and Liam Noble looked unsinkable.
In recent weeks they’ve looked all at sea.
Pools just aren’t getting Noble on the ball anywhere near enough in games.
For half an hour on Saturday he ran the game, high up the pitch. For the rest of it he was far too deep, just where the opposition wants him.
Pools need to find a way of getting him where he can hurt teams - and that’s where Featherstone comes in.
Alongside the duo, Paddy McLaughlin is OK, neat, tidy and full of energy but he has not 100% convinced in there.
Could it be time for a change in approach? Conor Newton has certainly not let the side down in that role, or any asked of him for that matter.
Michael Woods should also return to fitness next weekend.
*PURSE STRINGS NEED LOOSENING
Owner Raj Singh was in the stands on Saturday and he may well have been convinced to unlock the vault, given Pools’ toothless show at Bromley.
Pools need a striker and it looks like they need one fast.
After all the hard work to date, it would be a travesty if that went to waste as Autumn turns to Winter.