Billy Paynter chasing fourth goal in as many games for Hartlepool United against Newport County

Billy Paynter celebrates after scoring Pools first goal against York. Picture by CHRIS HORSLEY
Billy Paynter celebrates after scoring Pools first goal against York. Picture by CHRIS HORSLEY

Billy Paynter will chase his fourth goal in as many games tonight as he looks to lead Hartlepool United to win number four.

Paynter and Pools have made a dream start to the season and go into the clash with Newport County at Victoria Park as one of only five clubs boasting 100 per cent records (kick-off 7.45pm).

He is full of confidence, he is scoring goals and leading this group

Pools’ Sam Collins

That they start a full League Two programme in fifth place is down in no small measure to their big summer signing.

The in-form Scouser scored with a header in the opening-day win over Morecambe at the Vic where he set up Rakish Bingham for the match-clinching second.

He followed that up with a stunning curling shot in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at York City to show that he is more than just a strongman.

Should Paynter net again tonight there could be every chance of Pools remaining with the early pacesetters as assistant boss Sam Collins hopes.

“Billy has that in him,” said Collins. “He has so much quality.

“Everyone expected to see just a big targetman when we brought him in.

“But I’ve known him a long time, he’s got a helluva lot more than that.

“He’s full of confidence at the moment.

“Billy’s scoring goals and leading this group, doing a brilliant job, and everyone is following his lead and long may that continue.”

Throw in the fact that he scored the winner seven days ago in the Capital One Cup win at Fleetwood and he’s a man on fire.

Paynter has set up gilt-edged chances for his frontline colleagues Rakish Bingham and Scott Fenwick in each of the three games so far.

However, it has been the 31-year-old’s goals which have made the difference so far, the equaliser at York being the pick of the bunch.

“Billy’s strike comes from confidence,” said Collins.

“We have seen what happened last season for us, so for our team to have someone so full of it, without any other thought than finding the top corner, is something else.

“Some players may be low on confidence might have square it to someone else [at York on Saturday].

“But Billy opens up and has no other thought than bending it into the top corner.

“The goal was right into the stanchion - I was directly behind it - and it was fantastic goal, at any level of football.”

Collins will be hoping Bingham and Fenwick too get the goal bug.

Bingham, who had two assists on Saturday, is getting into some great positions, so too Fenwick, and the assistant manager acknowledges that Pools are creating a lot of openings.

“We missed chances in the first-half [at York],” he said.

“Bings had one saved by Scott Flinders and a couple which have flashed wide and Scott fired one into the keeper.

“Just like last Tuesday we could have scored more, but we have won the game.

“We have a good blend, we will improve our finishing and when it all clicks together we will only get better.”

It is early days in the league programme, so placings in the table carry little significance.

For the record though, tonight’s match is fifth v 20th, Newport opening up with a 3-0 defeat at Cambridge before picking their first point of the season on Saturday at home to Stevenage.

It could and should have been all three points for Terry Butcher’s side, only for Stevenage defender Mark Hughes to score a stoppage-time equaliser for Teddy Sheringham’s team.

Pools have a doubt over defender Harry Worley tonight after he limped off early in the piece at Bootham Crescent.

Should he not make it, Matthew Bates will prove the likely replacement, leaving Collins and boss Ronnie Moore the decision of whether to continue with their 4-3-3 or revert to their favoured 3-5-2.

Pools (probable): Bartlett, Duckworth, Harrison, Bates, Carroll, Magnay, Featherstone, Woods, Fenwick, Paynter, Bingham. Subs (from): Denton, Nearney, Jones, Oyenuga, Walker, Smith, Oates, Hawkins