Dave Challinor explains Hartlepool United's two big team changes ahead of 3-0 defeat at Sutton United
Dave Challinor made two big changes to Hartlepool United’s starting line-up ahead of Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Sutton United.
Mark Shelton and David Ferguson, two players who had previously featured in every game for Pools in 2021 dropped to the bench for the ultimately unsuccessful visit to Gander Green Lane.
In their place, Zaine Francis-Angol made his first start for the club and captain Ryan Donaldson returned to the side for only his third start of the year.
The result means Pools remain fourth in the National League table and must now win against Weymouth next weekend and hope Stockport County drop points at Yeovil Town in order to secure third spot.
Explaining his team selection, Challinor said after the defeat: “We wanted to come and win the game and put finishing third in our own hands in terms of next weekend.
"On the flip side of that we're also looking toward play-off games and making sure that if we need people to come in and do jobs for us then we're in a good place for that to happen.
"Looking at the opposition, Zaine is different to Fergie in terms of what he provides and they obviously have big threats from wide areas. We nullified their threats from wide areas but we didn't defend in the middle well enough.
"Ry coming in for Shelts was just looking at things and scenarios for that to happen.
"Regardless of the team you pick and the tactics you play, if you don't do the fundamentals well and you don't have a bit of luck then there's a good chance things will go against you and they have here.”
The match took place on an artificial surface which can prove troublesome for certain players but Challinor admitted the surface didn’t have a great influence on the side he picked.
“It didn't really impact our selection,” he added. “
"Shelts has had an issue before with 3G pitches from when he had his ankle issue. He wasn't comfortable last season so I suppose that came into it slightly but it certainly wasn't the deciding factor.
"If that had been a play-off final or league decider for us then we may have looked at things a bit differently.”