Five talking points for Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett
As can so often happen in football, having put in the hard yards against the top sides in the division, Hartlepool United came unstuck against third-bottom Leyton Orient.
Next weekend Barnet, who are now just three places and one point worse off, are the hosts as Pools go in search of just their fourth win of the season.
But what did we learn from the Orient loss? And what things need addressed by Craig Hignett ahead of the long trip down to The Hive?
Here we take a look at five issues facing the Pools’ boss, following the club’s disappointing home loss to the O’s.
Sadly this is not something that can happen over night.
There have been signs this is a problem, even when Pools have managed to scrape results in recent weeks.
Sometimes when something goes against them in a game, they threaten to capitulate.
And that is exactly what they did on Saturday.
When Trevor Carson made an uncharacteristic error and Orient got back in it, everything went pear-shaped.
To be fair to the players, when Nicky Featherstone was sent off v Luton earlier this season they held together, but this is an isolated incident.
And speaking to Hignett post-match he knows he has a fight on his hands to turn around a dressing-room which tends to revert back into its shell when the going gets tough.
Get players back
Improving Pools’ backline is something at the very top of the to do list for Hignett this week.
The problem is two-fold, though.
Firstly he needs to work out whether the personnel he has in the positions at present, are the best men to do the job.
The answer is probably no.
While it felt like Liam Donnelly would add stability to the back four slotting in to the centre, it did not. In fact, Pools looked even more out of sorts.
A switch to the right, with Jordan Richards dropping out, could be a solution, but that depends very much on whether Hignett can get one, or either, of Matthew Bates or Rob Jones back.
What happened at the weekend would not occur with either of those two in there.
By hook or by crook Hignett needs one, or both, back in contention for the trip to North London.
The second part of the problem is that the likes of Toto Nsiala, Donnelly, Richards and Jake Carroll need to switch on more.
It is no good defending well for 89 minutes then conceding because you weren’t concentrating.
At the weekend, Pools were lucky to defend well for an hour.
Improve midfield balance
For some reason or other things aren’t quite working in the centre of the park.
Lewis Hawkins graft is tireless. Josh Laurent’s class is there for all to see. And Nicky Featherstone adds an experienced assurance further back.
Collectively, though, on Saturday things didn’t quite work.
It could be time for Michael Woods to step up his comeback v Barnet.
Work out if Amond maybe needs support
Hignett does not like 4-4-2.
That is the top and bottom of the matter.
He says it does not work in an attacking sense, or defensively.
But on Saturday it looked like Amond, who was wasteful but lively, could have done with a bit of support.
Instead, Hignett sacrificed him, despite Pools chasing the game from behind.
With no injury revealed it appeared a strange decision at the time. It still does now.
Two up top, with Billy Paynter, who must be pulling his hair out, could be a solution.