FIVE plus points from Richard Money's Hartlepool United FA Trophy curtain raiser

Richard Money's Hartlepool United reign kicked off with a hard-fought, battling FA Trophy win at Leamington.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 17 December, 2018, 09:00
Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United scores after a solo run from his own half during the The Buildbase FA Trophy match between Leamington and Hartlepool United at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, Leamington Spa on Saturday 15th December 2018. (Credit: Alan Hayward | Shutter Press) ©Shutter Press Tel: +44 7752 571576 e-mail: markf@mediaimage.co.uk Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL

It comes seven days after Craig Hignett guided Pools to their first win since October last weekend at Maidenhead United.

So what’s changed at the Super 6 Stadium?

DEFENSIVE SWITCH

Three at the back was one of the Hartlepool hallmarks of Matthew Bates’ tenure.

No matter the result, or performance, the former boss was reluctant to switch to a four, only doing so when selection issues forced his hand down at Gillingham in the FA Cup.

The first thing Money did when he came in was return to a more orthodox defensive four.

And it’s clearly something that suits the Pools playing staff down to the ground.

The two players who benefit most from that are the full-backs - Mark Kitching and Kenton Richardson.

Kitching is no wing-back, that has been plain to see from the start of the season, but put him in a four and he dovetails perfectly, due to his solid defensive work.

The same can be said of Richardson. While he is a defender who likes to get forward, he is not really comfortable playing higher up the park as par for the course.

ATTACKING APPROACH

Saturday was an awful day for football - it was the case across the land, not just in the Midlands.

This was no day for free-flowing, passing stuff. Pragmatism won the day.

Despite that, it was clear to see Pools tried their best to entertain.

And a lot of that can be put down to the approach of the manager.

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While Nicky Featherstone kept things moving and Ryan Donaldson and Josh Hawkes tried their best to carve open the opposition, it was Money’s intent to keep the opposition pinned back which stood out the most.

All too often with time ticking away manager’s take their lot and shut up shop - Money stuck to his guns.

He made positive changes and stuck with his three forward players right to the death.

TRAINING GROUND MORALE

Money has got the players’ vote. Word from the camp is that the new man is just what the doctor ordered.

His assured, confidence managerial approach has paid dividends in the short time he has been on the training pitches.

The continuity of having Ged McNamee around the place - an immensely popular figure in the dressing room - has also helped the transition from Hignett to Bates to Money.

Bates was not unpopular by the way, it’s just that a change seems like it was needed.

BIGGER IS BETTER
Pools are a small side, there’s no getting away from that.

It seems like that’s something Money has realised from the off.

Bringing in defender Harvey Rodgers seems like a mini-masterstroke.

The centre-half was excellent at Leamington, adding size and stature to a Pools XI devoid of any noticeable height.

RECOGNITION OF FAULTS
Experience is lacking and so too is a forward player. Money seems like he already had the finger on the pulse before he got the job.

He will bring in another player, maybe even this week.

And while the decision to bring back Lewis Hawkins was not one to get the pulses racing, it is a shrewd move ahead of a busy festive period.