Hartlepool United tempo must not drop

Hartlepool United cannot afford to let their tempo drop in the National League.

Thursday, 28th September 2017, 8:59 am
Updated Friday, 29th September 2017, 4:15 pm
Pools boss Craig Harrison.

Picture: TOM BANKS
Pools boss Craig Harrison. Picture: TOM BANKS

Those are the orders of Craig Harrison, who has pinpointed a drop in intensity as one of the reasons Pools came a cropper against Eastleigh last weekend.

While Pools were left to rue what the manager described as two poor goals, plus some wasteful finishing, he believes they did not aid their cause by dropping down to Eastleigh’s pedestrian pace.

The Spitfires did all they could to slow down the pace at Victoria Park.

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When Pools have excelled, it has been done when the intensity has been high, as the boss explained.

“We got caught up with the low tempo they played at,” admitted the 39-year-old. “We didn’t push our tempo on like we should.

“An Eastleigh throw-in was taking 30 seconds and a goal-kick 60.

“We’ve done it ourselves against Leyton Orient, Dagenham – we’ve been ‘professional’, as they say.

“They took the sting out of the game from nine to 10 minutes – the only way they were going to score was from set-pieces because they did not commit a lot forward in open play and they were quite deep.

“The tempo wasn’t where we’d like it to be. I think we got caught up with their game-plan and them making it as flat as possible.”

Aside from getting in the ref’s ear, there was little Pools could do when Eastleigh had the ball, but Harrison says his players must be pushing the pace when they are in possession.

“It’s down to mentality, body language, real enthusiasm from all players and making sure everyone’s on the front foot,” he said.

“You can’t get caught up with having 10-second breaks or anything like that.

“We needed to keep tempo when we had the ball and have a more positive body language.”

Harrison said it was disappointing that the referee did not get to grips with it, though he says the whole issue is a regular problem.

“it’s a real real grey area,” he said. “It’s a huge bug-bear of mine.

“My comparison is if I two-foot someone in the first minute I’d be sent off. The same in the 90th.

“So what’s the difference in wasting time in the first 10 minutes compared to the last 10?

“The referee had the opportunity to set out his stall just before or after half-time, to book someone then the game changes.

“It’s a game-plan, a tactic, call it what you like, but it’s something which has worked for Eastleigh.

“We’ve seen keepers booked in the 85th, 86th, 87th minute, haven’t we, yet they haven’t taken any longer than earlier in the game.”