Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor responds to suggestions of 'gamesmanship' following hard fought wins over Sutton United and Notts County in recent weeks

We’ve seen a notable improvement in Hartlepool United’s ‘game management’ in recent months.

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 12:30 pm

Pools are the in form side in the National League following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Sutton United to take them second in the table.

It was a close fought affair where Dave Challinor’s side were able to grind out and secure the three points.

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Rhys Oates shortly before scoring Hartlepool United's winning goal against Sutton United. Picture by FRANK REID

As Sutton pushed late on, Hartlepool expertly ran the clock down by conceding and earning tactical free-kicks as well as holding the ball up in the corners.

It’s not a side of the game Challinor advocates, but he has been pleased to see his side do what is necessary in order to get wins in recent matches.

“I’m not a massive fan of it but unfortunately that’s the game,” he admitted.

“There’s nothing more frustrating for me and opposition managers when players blatantly waste time and the fourth official holds up three minutes of added time.

"You’re being told that he’s keeping track of all [the time wasting] saying ‘I’m on it’ but he obviously isn’t when three minutes are added.

"Some people will call it a word you shouldn’t use, some people will call it experience, gamesmanship, game management, the dark arts, there are lots of different names for it but ultimately it will always play a part because until it’s stomped out from the game.”

Pools have been victims of gamesmanship on many occasions during their three and a half year stay in the National League so far.

And Challinor feels it’s a part of the game that, for better or worse, is here to stay.

“It probably never will be eradicated unless we end up at some point, probably long after I’ve retired, a shot clock type game of football where the clock is 60 minutes and we’ll stop every time the ball goes out of play,” he added.

“I’m not an advocate of it but it’s part of being successful and if we want to win games, we have to know how to manage things. Buying yourself free-kicks, putting the ball into good areas so teams are on the back foot is a big part of football.”

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