Hartlepool United interim manager Antony Sweeney discusses Wycombe Wanderers draw, response to Leyton Orient defeat and switching focus to Newport County as managerial search continues

Hartlepool United interim manager Antony Sweeney was pleased with how his side have responded to a difficult week as he looks ahead to a return to League Two action.

Pools were beaten 5-0 in their previous league outing at Leyton Orient just days before it was confirmed that Dave Challinor had left his post as manager to join National League Stockport County.

In adversity, Hartlepool picked up a Papa John’s Trophy win against Everton under-21s before going toe to toe with League One Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup first round at Victoria Park on Saturday.

The match ended 2-2 with the replay set to take place on Tuesday, November 16 (7:45pm kick-off).

HARTLEPOOL, GBR. NOV 6TH Anthony Sweeney, Hartlepool United Interim Manager, applauds supporters during the FA Cup match between Hartlepool United and Wycombe Wanderers at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 6th November 2021. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

“From our point of view, we saw it as a winnable game but I’m not sure if the Orient defeat had any motivating effect on the players or not,” Sweeney told The Mail.

“It should do because they shouldn’t be happy with their performance in that game but the team wasn’t picked with that in mind, it was picked to give us the best chance of getting something from the game and coping with the threat Wycombe posed.

"I thought the back five including Feaths [Nicky Featherstone in front defended really well with the aerial balls and second balls the best they could and we were an attacking threat at the other end.

"There are only certain things you can ask of footballers and we got 90-per-cent of them on Saturday. We’ll definitely ask for the other 10-per-cent but if they keep giving us that we’ll be happy moving forward.”

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Next up for Pools is a rare Friday night home match against Newport County (7:45pm kick-off). The fixture date was moved forward at Newport’s request and Pools’ approval as a means to save on travel costs and overnight stays for the Welsh outfit.

“We’ve got a different week coming up with us playing Friday night but we’d planned for that,” Sweeney added.

"The players were off Sunday and as staff we’ve been looking at Newport and how we might look to exploit their weaknesses and things like that.

"We’ll have some time on the training ground after playing in two cup competitions. The league is the priority but you still want to progress and win games.

"We’ve got through one competition and we’re in the draw for the next round of another. It’s another game unbeaten at home which doesn’t shift momentum forward but it maintains it and we’ve got to back that up with our league form on Friday.”

As it stands, Sweeney will remain in the dugout as caretaker manager this weekend as Pools continue their search for a new manager. The club are expected to be patient and meticulous when making an appointment, just like they had been with the previous one two years ago.

Bromley boss Andy Woodman remains the favourite for the role and The Mail understands both parties are interested. Halifax Town manager Pete Wild is also a contender along with former Pools favourite Tommy Miller.

Sweeney hasn’t ruled himself out of the running completely just yet as he remains in temporary charge while the club hold discussions with potential candidates.

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