Matthew Bates reveals the key factor in Hartlepool United's successful system switch
The key to Hartlepool United's successful system switch lies in the strength of their full-backs - that's the view of Matthew Bates.
Pools ran out 4-0 winners last night, sweeping aside Northern League Shildon in County Durham.
Returning striker Luke James marked his first Hartlepool start with a strike - the frontman netted Pools’ third as Bates’ men ran riot at Dean Street.
His effort came after Lewis Hawkins opened the scoring, followed by a goal from Jake Cassidy and was subsequently squared off by substitute Niko Muir’s second in two pre-season games.
And the rampant, attacking show was only possible due to the tireless efforts of Pools’ full-backs - Peter Kioso, Kenton Richardson and Mark Kitching - according to the manager.
“We want to be solid at the back but we also want to have a threat and get numbers in the box,” said Bates.
“The wing backs give us options. They are fit players who get forward and back and that allows us to play the way we want to.”
Bates stuck with the system which served his side so well in the 1-1 draw against Sunderland at the weekend, but did shift personnel.
One player back in action was Cassidy, who missed the Black Cats game with a hamstring injury, while Ryan Catterick was also trusted between the sticks.
And Cassidy, along with James and Hawkins made an impression early on as Pools imposed themselves on their Northern League division one opposition. It took them 26 minutes to net the first - Hawkins, playing off the front, pouncing on a defensive mistake to nab the ball and lob in from 25 yards.
It was 2-0 within 60 seconds as Jake Cassidy pounced from close range to net a goal on his return to the side. And just before the break James got his first goal back in blue and white as he tapped home after a Cassidy effort was parried by Shildon keeper Shaun Newbrook.
A raft of changes on the hour mark did little to dampen Pools’ desire.
Muir made no mistake, tucking in after a shot from triallist Dimi Gioukoudis was saved.
“Getting another goal is fantastic for his confidence,” said Bates. “He is a confident lad but anyone would doubt themselves stepping up in levels. So for him to score, it can only do him the world of good.”
Pools XI: Ryan Catterick (Scott Loach 62), Kenton Richardson (Ryan Donaldson 62), Louis Laing, Andrew Davies (Brook Miller, 32), Myles Anderson (Carl Magnay 62), Peter Kioso (Mark Kitching 62), Michael Woods (Conor Newton 62), Nicky Featherstone (Liam Noble 62), Luke James (Josh Hawkes 62), Lewis Hawkins (Dimi Gioukoudis 62), Jake Cassidy (Niko Muir 62).