Hartlepool United striker Rhys Oates reveals the ‘catalyst’ behind the ‘best season’ of his career
Rhys Oates believes he’s been playing the best football of his career at Hartlepool United this season.
Pools’ top scorer swept the player of the season awards following Saturday’s 4-0 win over Weymouth at Victoria Park.
Oates rejoined Pools following a difficult final season with Morecambe as he was restricted to just five League Two appearances due to injury.
But the 26-year-old has made the most of his fresh start at Victoria Park with a career high 14 goals to his name.
“The most I’ve scored in a season is seven and I’ve managed to double that this season,” Oates said when asked if the 2020-21 season has been his best in professional football.
“Scoring wise yeah but I think in terms of in the game and affecting the game in other aspects as well, yeah, definitely [the best].
“I did [target] 15 goals so I’m glad we’ve made the play-offs so I can get to that! I’m confident I’ll get to that. I’m really happy with how it’s gone this season.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Oates this campaign as he started just three of Pools’ opening 11 league games and didn’t score his first goal until late December – a fine solo effort in a 4-0 win over Stockport County.
“For me, I wasn’t really in the team at the start of the season but it was just about continuing to work hard because I hadn’t played much the season before,” Oates told The Mail.
“It was about working hard in training day in day out and getting up to full fitness.
"I knew that I was capable of playing and when Luke Armstrong came in, that was my first start in the run of games and we just clicked straight away.
"We had that great partnership going and that was a good catalyst for me personally, me and Luke playing together.
“I was saying from the start, once I got that first goal I was confident they’d start coming. I missed a few chances early on but once that first goal came we just kicked on from there.”