Exeter 1 Hartlepool United 2: Craig Hignett half-time rocket transforms Pools

Craig Hignett will never have a hairdrier named after him, nor will the half-time crockery ever be in any danger.

Sunday, 14th August 2016, 9:25 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th August 2016, 10:29 pm
Trevor Carson  flies through the air to try to save Lloyd Jamess free-kick only for the bar to come to the   rescue of Pools early in the second half. Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX
Trevor Carson flies through the air to try to save Lloyd Jamess free-kick only for the bar to come to the rescue of Pools early in the second half. Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX

But when the Hartlepool United boss loses his temper then you had better take note.

Saturday, just gone 3.46pm, was one such occasion when Hignett felt obliged to give his players a piece of his mind in the middle of the dramatic 2-1 victory at Exterer City.

Pools were not that bad at St James Park, it’s not as if they were getting cut to ribbons by the Grecians.

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They trailed 1-0 to the red & whites thanks to Liam McAlinden’s precise 32nd-minute finish, and Hignett had not enjoyed what he had watched from the away technical area.

While the players trooped off after Mark Heywood’s half-time whistle, Hignett had a quick conflab with his right-hand-man, Curtis Fleming, and goalkeeping coach, Tony Caig, and told Padraig Amond to get ready to come on.

Only then did he head under the stand and into the changing room to deliver a choice word or three.

Midfielder Michael Woods kicked off the comeback with the 74th-minute equaliser, before Billy Paynter struck with the winner just 82 seconds later.

Woods confirmed the half-time Hignett blast and praised the manager for his words and tactical switch, going to a 4-4-2 after abandoning his favoured 4-3-3.

“The gaffer gave us a rollicking at the interval and made changes and anyone could have been brought off,” Woods told SportMail

“Sometimes a rocket is what you need and he changed the shape.

“He deserves credit, the changes he made worked.

“We got more support to Billy,Nathan and Lewie got in the game more, they are our danger players.

“If we can get them in the game, we are going to hurt teams.”

That is certainly how it panned out. Amond almost scored with his first touch after coming on.

Woods, Amond and Lewis Alessandra teamed up for the 74th-minute equaliser, which came via the lesser-used Woods left foot.

And barely after the away celebrations had subsided the fans dancing around again when Amond cleverly let Carl Magnay’s cross run through to Paynter who buried his shot past Bobby Olejnik.

“Exeter is a hard place to come, so we were delighted with that win,” added Woods.

“They are a little bit more direct than they have been in recent times, they use the big boy up front.

“We were nowhere near good enough in the first half – we were miles off the pace, second to every ball.

“But then the second was a totally different story, we got at them, got in their faces.

“Podge got in after about 30 seconds and that set the tone for the whole half, really.

“We were a totally different side in the second half and I thought we fully deserved the win. It was a bit difficult first half, we were a yard off the pace, it was as if we’d been sat on the bus five days not 10 hours.

“We were a different team in the second half, we had energy, we had to get around Billy. There’s no point having one striker against a back four.

“The change in shape in the second half really helped us.”

For Woods, it was a fine day’s work in the Devon sunshine. Retained after a good display in midweek at Preston in the EFL Cup, the 26-year-old was in the right place at the right time to start the move for the equaliser and then finish it.

“It was my second one here, I enjoy playing at Exeter,” said Woods.

“It wasn’t as good as the one I scored here two seasons ago, but they all count, don’t they?

“It was nice to see the ball hit the net and then to get the second one so quickly after it knocked the wind out of their sails.

“We then saw out the game really well after that and In don’t really think Trevor [Carson] had much to do.”