Five areas Hartlepool boss must look at after defeat to Dover

Padraig Amond is tackled in the Dover penalty area.
Padraig Amond is tackled in the Dover penalty area.

The message from manager Craig Harrison is the aftermath of Saturday’s loss was that his team must learn from their first taste of National League football.

In fact, the boss himself said there was plenty he could take from the Dover defeat, in what was his own maiden voyage in the fifth tier.

Harrison told the gathered press pack at the Vic that he would analyse the performance on Sunday, when emotion had passed, and try to make sure his side don’t make the same mistakes again.

So, what might the boss have learned from the Whites loss?

Here we take a look at five possible issues, positive and negative, to have arisen from the weekend campaign opener.

Jake Cassidy furthered his claim for a first-team start

Starting on a positive, I thought one of the real plus points from the second-half performance was that Cassidy looked the perfect fit for Pools.

In the first 45 Padraig Amond, one of the best forwards at this level, was starved of any kind of service, feeding off high balls that he is far from suited to handle.

Last season, when Pools were at their best, Amond had two or three men buzzing around him, on the break.

When they were at their worst they were aiming high balls to the isolated Irishman.

He is a class act and natural goalscorer but struggles in a lone role, not for a lack of effort.

Cassidy brought men into play and allowed Pools to operate further up the park.

Could two up top be an option?

Left-sided problems

Pools, with their style of play, definitely missed Blair Adams.

Liam Donnelly struggled, but despite his poor show, his performances was not helped at all, in the first 45, by the lack of tracking back by debutant Jack Munns.

Hopefully Adams returns, or we could see Munns benched for the visit to Moss Rose.

Rhys Oates an option

He impressed me last season with his work rate and willingness to go at defenders, even if his end product is lacking at times.

Oates might have just played himself into a starting spot tomorrow night

Defensively he gave Donnelly more cover, and despite his lack subtlety, contrasting with Munns, he was more of a threat in the final third, too.

Intensity lacking

The stage was set. The fans did their bit, the manager, too.

But for some unknown reason the players, five of whom were debutants, just didn’t seem to have a spring in their step. Their performance was flat and that needs to considerably improve v Macclesfield. I’m sure it will.

Credit Dover they were definitely streetwise.

Midfield balance

Things just didn’t quite work in the middle. Michael Woods and Lewis Hawkins, allowed to roam, were bogged down by the sheer numbers thrown in there by Dover.

This could be a common theme, even though I like Harrison’s willingness to get his team playing. He said it himself, it could be a case of horses for courses, particularly in this area.