Antony Sweeney assesses Tom Crawford's first League Two start for Hartlepool United

Antony Sweeney made two changes to the Hartlepool United side for Tuesday night’s trip to Swindon Town – one was forced and expected, the other wasn’t.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Reagan Ogle came in for the suspended Jamie Sterry at right wing-back and midfielder Tom Crawford was handed his first league start of the season in place of Mark Shelton.

The 22-year-old played his first League Two minutes for Pools off the bench in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against Forest Green Rovers.

Despite being fully fit and available the most part of the year – barring illness in the summer – Crawford has struggled to make the bench for Pools let alone get in the starting line-up.

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Everton's Lewis Warrington fouls Hartlepool United's Tom Crawford during the EFL Trophy match between Hartlepool United and Everton at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 2nd November 2021. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

His previous league start for Hartlepool came back in February with a 2-0 win over Solihull Moors at Victoria Park in the National League.

Although Pools suffered another 3-1 defeat at Swindon, Crawford did his chances of keeping his place in the starting line-up no harm ahead of Saturday’s trip to Port Vale (3pm kick-off)

“Crawfs has had to be really patient,” interim manager Antony Sweeney told The Mail. “He's a good footballer and he had a job to do at Swindon where we wanted a bit more security in front of the back three.

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"He's someone who can put his foot on the ball and take the sting out of it because that was something we really struggled with in the first half against Forest Green.

"That was the thinking behind Crawfs coming in and I think he can be pleased with his display in terms of doing what he was asked to do.

"He's not the type of player we'll ask to score loads of goals for us or be a disruptive, physical defensive midfielder, he's a ball player so we asked him to do that job and for the best part he did that well.”

While Crawford’s performance was a small positive to take from the defeat, Sweeney was far from satisfied to see the side suffer a fourth consecutive league defeat.

“We're fully aware as a football club where we need to improve, it's plain for all to see,” he added.

“We've created enough chances to win the game but regardless of creating chances and not taking them, we've not defended our goal anywhere near well enough.”

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