Niko Muir’s Sunderland strike can be the start of something special at Pools - that’s the view of manager Matthew Bates.
The former Hendon striker pounced on some awful defending by Black Cats’ defender Donald Love to net the opener in Saturday’s 1-1 Victoria Park draw.
And even without that smart dink over Scotland international Jon McLaughlin for 1-0, Muir was one of Pools’ real bright sparks on what was a very positive afternoon’s work.
Despite netting 40 goals in a remarkable season last year, Muir’s signing has brought sceptics out the woodwork in recent times.
Many wonder whether the player, who also had a trial at QPR this year, will be able to translate Isthmian League goals into the fifth tier.
But the early signs look good, especially if Saturday is anything to go by. And Bates hopes a goal against Football League opposition will do his striker’s confidence no harm ahead of his first crack at the National League, which kicks off in less than three weeks.
“It was a good finish,” said Bates I thought he was a bit close to the keeper but you do not score 40 goals in a season at any level without having a striker’s instinct.
“We have seen that type of finish in training every day so it came as absolutely no surprise to us.
“It was good to see him get off the mark, especially against a very good side in Sunderland. That will give him confidence moving forward.
“He has done well. Hopefully he goes on to have a good season.”
Muir is now just one of three striking options at Pools, it’s a far cry from the back end of last season.
Bates admits he’s spoiled for choice.
“I have been very pleased with the recruitment,” said Bates.
“I could not have wished for any more than I have got.
“It is great to get Luke James back to the club. We have worked on it for a while.
“It was on, it was off. We were just happy to get it done.”