Hartlepool United analysis: FIVE changes made by Matthew Bates that inspired Boreham Wood win
Just six points off the top and back in the promotion race.
Hartlepool United silenced their doubters and got their drive towards promotion back on track at the Super 6 Stadium on Saturday.
Things were different against Boreham Wood. Gone was the tension of games gone by and the style in which Pools got the three points was also altered.
Here we take a look at FIVE changes to Matthew Bates’s side, which made all the difference at the weekend.
In games gone by there has been a feeling that Pools would ‘throw it away’.
They did it against Aldershot, Eastleigh and others but you never felt they would let this one slip, despite being in front at half-time.
There was a steel about Pools, rarely seen. And a coolness under pressure. It was a positive step in the right direction.
Boreham Wood are one of the biggest, most awkward, physical sides anyone at any level will ever come up against.
All you have to do is remember back to the last meeting between the two evidence of that.
But from minute one Pools would not allow themselves to be bullied by the more physically impressive side.
Tackles went flying, they won their first balls and all important headers.
Pools’ success this season has been built on a stylish, passing approach. This was not evident on Saturday.
Pools seemed to abandon their want to dominate possession and control the midfield.
This, on paper, looked like an off day for Nicky Featherstone and Liam Noble, normally so instrumental in Pools’ wins both at home and on the road. It could well have been down to the tactics employed by the gaffer.
Pools were much more direct that before and it paid dividends with Niko Muir and Luke James a constant thorn in the side of the opposition.
It will be interesting to see whether Bates continues with this approach or adjusts it at home. It could well be that it’s horses for courses.
The system and tactics did seem to benefit the front two, mind. Especially after they have come in for some unwarranted criticism from certain quarters in recent weeks.
At times in recent weeks Muir and James have been too far from the action to get goals.
They have often been the arcitects of their own lack of goals - Muir playing deep and James running his legs off down the channels. This all changed on Saturday.
A slight adjustment to the front two saw Muir dropping in as a 10 at times and creating a bridge between front and back, while James was constantly on the shoulder of the central defenders.
His pace and direct running caused all kind of problems for Boreham Wood on the day. He did everything but score. He was class. Long may it continue.
Sometimes all you can do is fight fire with fire. Pools did that on Saturday.
They were the much smaller side on the day - that was evident in the line ups pre-game - but what they lacked in size they more than made up for every other department.
Pools have already proven, time and time again, they can out ‘play’ teams. Saturday proved they can mix it up physically, too.