Craig Hignett wants to see Hartlepool United’s ‘ruthless, nasty’ streak before end of National League season

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett believes his players need to find their ruthless streak in front of goal, and tap into their nasty side at the back.

Sunday, 31st March 2019, 1:56 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st March 2019, 2:03 pm
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett.

Pools suffered a 3-2 loss to Eastleigh yesterday, despite dominating possession and chances created.

And while Hignett was happy his side showed they can outperform a side who have a chance of being in the Football League next term, he was less than content with not at least taking a point from the Silverlake Stadium clash.

Coverage of Eastleigh v Hartlepool United sponsored by Flybe.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“With the ball we were excellent. We could have went in three or four up at half time,” said Hignett.

“But we have to be more ruthless. We weren’t ruthless.

“Considering they are in the play-offs we have probably gone there and given them as big a doing as they will get all year.

“Their keeper has done really well but our players had one-on-ones. They should be doing better, the keeper should not be getting anywhere near the ball with some of the chances.

“That’s where the ruthless streak comes into it. We need that.

“It is no good creating five or six clear cut chances and scoring two goals - those kind of chances have to go in the goal.

“They were hanging on at the end - I would have been disappointed with a draw.”

Ben Williamson opened the scoring before Mark Kitching levelled. Alex Wynter then restored the home side’s lead before Shaun Hobson increased it in the second period. Nicke Kabamba netted late on to set up a tense close but Pools could not get a third which would have seen them remain in the top half of the National League table.

“It’s three set pieces. In this league defending set pieces is massive,” said Hignett.

“We have had little things go against us - the second is a clear as day push and the third isn’t a corner.

“But if you don’t defend balls into the box you are in trouble, because every team at this level does it.

“All my talk in the run up to this game was about defending set pieces. We know that’s what they do.

“We switched off at the first goal and we are on the back foot. We did the same in the second half. Our start and restart has killed us in the game.

“We were too nice defensively, we let their players get runs on the ball - we have to brush up on the nasty side of the game.

“But the other bits, there was some really good play. I am pleased with the ball, but disappointed with the defending of set pieces.

“We played better on the day than against Wrexham.”

Fraser Kerr was pulled out of the starting XI just minutes before kick off on the south coast due to an illness - and Hignett is keen to point out how much of a loss that was for his side.

“Fraser Kerr was a massive loss for us - he has been the one who puts his head on everything,” said the manager.

“Unfortunately he wasn’t right in the warm up so we couldn’t play him, we needed to reshuffle.”

Kerr is expected to be fit enough to regain his place in the back four for next week’s National League clash with Solihull Moors, who currently sit third in the fifth tier table.

Another player who is expected to also be involved against Tim Flowers’ side is Adam Bale.
The former Sunderland youngster, who made his debut in the win over Wrexham, sat out the weekend trip down south due to an ankle problem.

The game is likely to be too soon for Luke Williams, though, with the player still hoping to get some gametime before the end of the current season.