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Boro defeat a kick up the backside for Hartlepool United - Matthew Bates

Pools boss Matthew Bates.
Pools boss Matthew Bates.

Middlesbrough’s Victoria Park demolition job was just the kick up the backside Hartlepool United needed – that’s the view of boss Matthew Bates.

Scott Loach had not conceded a pre-season goal, Pools were unbeaten, defensively sounds and rigidly organised until Saturday.

But Tony Pulis’ £21million frontline made sure those records went up in smoke as Britt Assombalonga netted a hat-trick and Ashley Fletcher a brace at the Vic in Pools’ final summer warm up.

Ahead of the National League season, and in the interest of keeping complacency at bay, Bates says the loss was just what the doctor ordered.

“It is good for the lads,” said Bates.

“It was a bit of a kick up the backside for them.

“It just shows them that despite a positive summer we haven’t cracked it just yet.

“There are things to work on from the game but there have been plenty of positives throughout the summer.”

Boro made things look easy at the weekend, splitting open the Pools backline almost at will.
And when they put the foot on the gas they netted FIVE goals in just 12 minutes at the back end of the first, start of the second half.

Bates admits that were Boro to visit again he’d rethink sticking to his 3-4-2-1 formation.

But even with hindsight, he wouldn’t change the way he set his side up to play on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to change things in the last friendly of the summer - I wanted to play the way we will this season,” said Bates.

“We have been working on things. We need to be solid without the ball and keep our shape.

“The game was gone but I was pleased our players kept going on the day.

“The hard work has stopped in terms of running but it starts in a different way. We want to get off to a good start.”