Hartlepool United v Bromley: Antony Sweeney's challenge to Pools ahead of Bromley visit
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Speaking ahead of Hartlepool’s return to home soil when they welcome Bromley to Victoria Park this afternoon, Sweeney was quizzed over Pools’ recent u-turn in form having picked up four points from six on the road over the last week.
Hartlepool brought an end to a run of four straight defeats in all competitions despite being held at home to Ebbsfleet recently before they secured a big win on the road at York in front of over 1,500 travelling supporters in what was, arguably, their best performance of the season. John Askey’s side were left frustrated when being held by bottom side Kidderminster in midweek but three games unbeaten represents their best run of form since the opening month of the season, something which Sweeney believes Pools need to look to capitalise on.
“I hope so,” first team coach Sweeney said when asked if confidence is building.
“We’re not stupid, we know we need a little bit more. We were in a real difficult run of results and performances, really. I think the performances were more of a disappointment than the results because, generally, if you perform well at this level the results will follow.
"We’ve stopped the rot a little bit in terms of the defeats. I think we’re at least two points, possibly four points, worse off than where we could be with a little bit of better quality and a touch of luck [in the last three games]. But that’s where we are. We’ve come through that a little bit now and it’s a case of us finding a consistent level of performance which will then positively impact the results.
"We’ve now got a home game against a really tough side who are doing well in the division. It’s an opportunity for us to perform well, better than we have, and hopefully it will result in some more points.”
Hartlepool will face one of their more difficult challenges of recent weeks when they welcome third-placed Bromley as they look to end a run of just one win in seven at the Vic over the course of the last few weeks. Andy Woodman’s side have been consistent performers in the National League in recent seasons having reached the play-offs twice in the last three years – including when facing Hartlepool back in 2021.
The Ravens were on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller in midweek when they gave up an early two goal lead against Aldershot – the Shots grabbing a winner in the 14th minute of second half stoppage time after Woodman’s side were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Byron Webster was sent off.
"It’s a really difficult challenge. Andy Woodman has done a really good job since he’s been there with relative success over a sustained period of time. He’s got a certain way of playing and it’s difficult to play against,” said Sweeney.
"They get the ball into areas where defences don’t want the ball to come in, they’ve got big, strong, powerful players but they can also play as well so they can mix their game up. So we’re under no illusions that this is a difficult game. They’ll be in the mix for getting out of the division come the end of the season.”
Pools are, again, likely to be without wing-back Charlie Seaman despite his return to training this week. The Doncaster Rovers loanee has been dealing with a stomach problem since coming off in the defeat at Halifax last month and returned to training alongside Matt Dolan who has also been dealing with an injury problem.
Beyond that, and the long-term issues of Alex Lacey, Luke Hendrie, Dan Dodds and Anthony Mancini, Askey has suffered no further setback with his squad over the course of the last week, with defender Joe Mattock also still available after Pools agreed an extension to his loan deal from Harrogate.