Antony Sweeney looking to wrap up 'a tough couple of days' with win against League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers
Hartlepool United interim manager Antony Sweeney insists his squad will be prepared for Saturday’s match against League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers (3pm kick-off) despite 'a tough couple of days’.
Following the highs of Tuesday night’s FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, Pools returned to full training at Maiden Castle on Friday for the first time this week.
The 500-mile round trip to Adams Park saw some of the squad return home at around 05:30 on Wednesday morning.
“It's been a tough couple of days,” Sweeney admitted ahead of Saturday’s match at The Suit Direct Stadium.
“Tuesday night in Wycombe is tough at the best of times but when the M1 is shut on three occasions it gets even tougher! The lads got back at quarter-past five on Wednesday morning so that day off became a bit of a write-off.
“We had to use Thursday as a bit of a recovery session for them. The group trained properly on Friday for the first time but we'll be prepared.”
Forest Green sit two points clear at the top of the League Two table with a game in hand, they are unbeaten away from home this season and will be looking to condemn Pools to a third straight defeat in the fourth tier.
“It will be very difficult,” added. “They've got the second best away form, unbeaten away from home.
"But we've got the best home form, we obviously lost our last home game so there's all sorts in the mix.
"Stripping it back, you'll see two good League Two sides and each team will affect each other.
“The best way I can describe it is using a boxing analogy where if you've got two good boxers, regardless of how good either defence or attack is, the chances are you're going to get smacked in the nose at some point! It's just about how much you limit that and limit the damage when they do that.
“I don't want our performance on Tuesday night against Wycombe to just be parked and think Forest Green are a bit more of a footballing side so we don't need to recover as quickly or sprint back or defend the far post.
“We need to do that just as much as the game requires while also being tested tactically against the team we're up against.”
Forest Green’s Jamille Matt and Matty Stevens are two players among the division’s top scorers so far this season with seven goals apiece – only three players in the division (Luke Armstrong, Matt Jay and Dominic Telford) have scored more.
“They've got a good team but they've got some obvious goalscorers in there too which we'll have to be wary of,” Sweeney told The Mail. “They've got Jamille Matt and Matt Stevens – who has 11 goals [in all competitions] already this season.
"There’s two players who score them goals but they've got decent players behind them as well in terms of people who run forward, pass forward and put you in areas that you don't want to be in.
"We've got to be mindful of that but we've got players as well that I'm sure Forest Green will be wary of and thinking about how they will deal with them.”