Craig Harrison impressed by his Hartlepool United young guns, but still eyeing striker reinforcements

Rhys Oates is mobbed after scoring Pools' winner at Leyton Orient.
Rhys Oates is mobbed after scoring Pools' winner at Leyton Orient.

Hartlepool United might be playing without a recognised No 9, but boss Craig Harrison says his side still pack a punch in the final third.

Pools again lined up in a 4-3-3 at Leyton Orient at the weekend, with Rhys Oates, more accustomed to playing wide, in the central role previously filled by Connor Simpson, Padraig Amond and Jake Cassidy.

And while Harrison remains in the hunt for an experienced head to complement his young guns up top, he believes Pools have got the perfect solution to their lack of senior striker, in the short term at least.

“Nothing has changed my thinking we are still looking. We are always looking to make the squad better, whether that be up front or elsewhere,” he said.

“But at the moment we are playing without a No 9. Rhys or Devante are not what you would call No 9 type forwards.

“Although when they do play that gives us different strengths - we are very good on the break.

“Any team with Devante or Rhys in it can break with pace.”

Oates was particularly impressive down at the Matchroom Stadium.

He was a constant outlet, dropping deep to receive and peeling wide to give Pools defenders an out ball when under pressure.

“If you look at that job Rhys has done it is fantastic,” said the manager of Oates, who netted the winner just after the break.

“It can be a tireless job up there on your own away from home, by yourself.

“He was different class.

“He has worked his socks off up there and he got exactly what he deserved.”

Meanwhile, the manager was also impressed with the performance of his Pools backline. After weathering a storm, Hartlepool shut the gates in the second period.

“We defended for our lives,” said Harrison.

“The organisation and togetherness was second to none. We were a threat on the counter, too. With a bit more quality and composure we would have scored three or four. That doesn’t matter, though, I’d have taken 2-1.”