Craig Hignett assesses Hartlepool United's five opening day debutants against Sutton United
Five players made their competitive Hartlepool United debuts in the 3-1 defeat at home to Sutton United.
Summer arrivals Ben Killip, Romoney Crichlow-Noble, Jason Kennedy, Gus Maftua and Gime Toure all started for the first time in the National League opener at Victoria Park.
Toure scored Pools’ only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time to make it 2-1 after two early Harry Beautyman goals but the U’s in control. Will Randall then wrapped up the three points in stoppage time.
Mafuta was named man of the match as the best of a bad bunch in terms of performances though Hignett didn’t single the former Salford City midfielder out.
“I thought they all looked nervy if I’m honest,” said the Pools manager.
“Gime flitted in and out of the game, there were a couple of bits of sloppy play from him but he’s exciting when he turns and runs at people, he's just got to understand the areas he can do that and where he can’t.
“I’m pleased for him to get a goal, especially against his own club but he won’t be happy about the result, no one is.”
Hignett did single out his latest arrival Crichlow-Noble and backed him to get to grips with the National League.
“Romoney saw what it was all about and he knows he’s got to up his game because 23s football isn’t any good in the National League, you’ve got to be a man and do things quicker,” he added.
“Hopefully he’s had a wake-up call. He’ll learn massive amounts from the game, I see it all the time it makes me laugh when under-23 players think they can easily play in the National League because they’ve played under-23s football.
“You saw what we did to Sheffield United [under-23s], it’s not real football.
“Young players have got to out and learn and he’ll get better and better as the season goes on because he’s got all the attributes you need.
“[Victoria Park] was bouncing and I think a few nerves kicked in but they’ll have to get used to that.”