Dover Athletic-Hartlepool United: Pools know just what to expect

Dover Athletic's Jamie Allen scores the winner at Victoria Park. in August. Photo: Mark Fletcher Shutter Press.
Dover Athletic's Jamie Allen scores the winner at Victoria Park. in August. Photo: Mark Fletcher Shutter Press.

Nicky Deverdics says Hartlepool United’s squad will know just what to expect when they start the second half of the season at Dover Athletic.

Pools travel to Deverdics old stamping ground tomorrow, the Crabble, looking to avenge their 1-0 home defeat from the first Saturday of the season.

We’ve got to back ourselves with our game-plan, you can’t fight them at their game

NICKY DEVERDICS

Hopes of a glorious start to their new chapter in the fifth tier were unceremoniously ripped up by the strongmen of Dover who bullied Pools to defeat.

Deverdics, who had spent some of the best days of his career under Chris Kinnear, had warned his team-mates just what Athletic would bring to the Vic and Pools were undone 1-0.

He has reiterated his words of caution again ahead of the crucial match against the club who have spent six weeks of the season at the top of the National League.

“We can expect what we saw on the first day of the season,” he told SportMail.

“Dover will be big, they will be powerful, they will fight for every ball and they have a guy up front who will fight for every ball [Ryan Bird].

“They will be dangerous.

“Dover won’t move the ball around like Macclesfield did but, as daft as this may sound, they carry more threat than Macclesfield.

“Macclesfield were good in the middle third but didn’t threaten in the final third.

“Dover will get it forward earlier and ask questions of our back four aerially – they will be a danger purely by the way they play.”

Deverdics, who looks set to line-up again at left-back, says Pools must not allow themselves to be dragged into an arm-wrestle with his former club.

“We’ve got to back ourselves with our game-plan, you can’t fight them at their game,” he explained.

“They play that way every week – they are a well-oiled machine.

“We’ll look to play our game and not get sucked in to theirs.”

Does the 30-year-old think the Dover tactics on the first Saturday in August came as a culture shock to Pools?

“I think so,” he said.

“I tried to stress how direct they’d be and how blatant the man-marking would be.

“I just don’t think any of the lads believed it would be as extreme as it was.

“We’ve played them once so we know pretty much what they are about, we’ll be a bit more ready for it this time.”

Despite that and despite the late giveaway last Saturday at home to Macclesfield, Deverdics says Pools will go to Kent with confidence high.

The Geordie wants Pools to take the best bits out of the performance.

“I’d like to think so,” said the free-kick specialist who says Pools must look to put such games ‘to bed’.

“Everyone has left the Vic fuming, disappointed, everything, fans, players, management.

“We’ve largely been the better team, for 85 minutes they’ve not looked like scoring.

“We’ve got to put the game to bed, we can’t leave it at 1-0.

“Even if they do get one then they still have a mountain to climb at 2-1.

“If we got a second that’s game over but we can’t get away from the fact they were two bad goals to concede.

“We were really disappointed because we thought we’d given our reaction to the Ebbsfleet result.

“We’ve controlled the game for large parts and then been hit by a sucker punch.”