Hartlepool United are in good form again for vital League Two match against Mansfield Town

Hartlepool United are in good heart again - and so is boss Craig Hignett.

Saturday, 17th September 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:15 pm
Craig Hignett

Pools go into today’s vital League Two match against Mansfield Town at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium in great shape (kick-off 3pm).

It follows a return to form at Yeovil where Pools fought back from being a goal down to win 2-1, seven days after a 6-1 trouncing at Stevenage.

“Yeovil was a good response to the week before, we needed it,” said Hignett.

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“It was important to put on a decent performance and stop conceding stupid goals.

“The lads showed good character to come back from a goal down after what happened the week before and it was all good.

“We deserved to win it. We defended well, kept set-pieces out, and second-half we bossed it.

“Lewie had a goal chalked off which was debatable so we could have come away with a 3-1 win, which probably would have been a better reflection of how we played in the second half.

“Stevenage was a one-off, from what I’ve seen in training and what I’ve seen at Yeovil. That’s how we will treat it.

“That can’t happen again, I don’t think it will.

“It’s had a positive affect in a weird way – a kick up the backside to the lads who realise they can’t just turn up and win.

“We have to graft hard to win games in this league and we certainly did that.”

The manager admitted he looked at himself and his tactics after the events at Broadhall Way and has come out of it a better man.

“It’s notoriously up and down this job, it took me a week to get over Stevenage,” he explained.

“When results like that happen you do tend to question yourself.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to set teams up to be boring, when I want an exciting one which scores goals.

“So with that comes different things to think about – we are a bit open, so do we make it a bit more boring and grind out results, a bit like what we were doing when I came in?

“That’s something I’ve had to look at and work out.

“You could say I was a bit ‘if they score five I want to score six’.

“For me, in an ideal world, that’s how I want to play – I don’t want them to score five!

“I do want us to be scoring six but to do that you have to take a few chances.

“But I have to weigh up the goals against column, which doesn’t make good reading, but the goals for does.

“I have to find a happy balance because you can’t concede two goals a game and expect to win.

“We are all right, we are midway in the table having conceded too many goals, so when we get tighter we will be better.”

While Stevenage has forced a re-evaluation of the Hignett attacking approach, the bottom line was that result was not helped by a makeshift back four on the day.

And Hignett admits the return to fitness of Rob Jones and Matthew Bates is a boost, as has been Toto Nsiala’s resumption from suspension and the progress of Scott Harrison.

“Batesy isn’t far away, Rob is coming back, Toto is back and Scotty is getting fitter by the game,” he said.

“Once everyone is back and we get everyone firing again the goals [against] will stop I’m sure.”