Matthew Bates: Under-fire Hartlepool United players have answered critics
Questions have been asked of Hartlepool United in the last few weeks but boss Matthew Bates believes his side have produced just the right answers.
Pools followed up the embarrassing National League loss at Bromley with a remarkable show at Gillingham in the FA Cup seven days later.
While the results was good enough - a 0-0 draw which sees Pools facing a replay to make it through to the second round – it was the performance that raised eyebrows.
And with that, Bates thinks his players have answered questions about their quality and character.
Although the manager knows Barnet will pose yet more conundrums for Pools, who are still looking to turn around a three-game losing streak in the division, on Sunday afternoon.
“We said last week we have had questions asked of us. I think we answered them,” said Bates.
“We need to follow that up against Barnet at home and put all of that talk to bed now.”
This weekend Pools will welcome back one of the squad’s early contenders for player of the season in Peter Kioso.
The central defender sat out the clash at Priestfield having been shown a red card at Hayes Lane the week previous.
He is likely to come straight back into the starting XI against the Bees, due to Carl Magnay serving a one-game ban for the five bookings he has picked up in the fifth tier campaign to date.
With Andrew Davies still one-game away from a return Bates must decide whether to stick with the 4-4-2 which served his team so well against League One opposition, or go back to his
tried and tested 3-5-2.
Given Bates’ thoughts this week, all fingers seem to be pointing towards a four-man backline.
“I would say that is the best we have played under me,” said the manager of last week’s first round draw.
“We had suspensions, had to change the shape and did not have much time to work on it, the travelling, everything – I was proud of the players.
“I was proud of the players taking everything we worked on in training out on to the pitch. I thought they were magnificent.”