Hartlepool boss backing Thomas to provide attacking spark

Nathan Thomas
Nathan Thomas

Ronnie Moore believes Nathan Thomas can “light the blue touchpaper” for Hartlepool United in the end-of-season run-in.

Pools ended a frustrating transfer window on a high note with the loan signing of former striker Luke James from Peterborough United.

Every time he picked the ball up he was positive - he got at people.

And Pools opened the window in style last month with the capture of Thomas from Mansfield Town fo an undisclosed fee.

Thomas made a great debut and set up the winner for Scott Fenwick against Wycombe.

The 21-year-old struggled at Accrington - not that he was alone that night - and did not play at Cambridge.

But he was back to his best against Exeter last Saturday, beating opponents and whipping in crosses into the box.

“Nathan will light the blue touch paper, especially at home,” predicted Moore.

“Every time he picked the ball up he was positive - he got at people. He will spark us up, no doubt about that.

“But he needed more ball, he went by the defender and put Exeter on the back foot, there were some great crosses.

“When he’s doing that, our strikers have to be on the front foot.”

Alas, his team-mates were not quite on his wavelength and Pools ended the match goalless.

Moore, who knew where the net was during his career as a striker, was frustrated by the absence, not just of goals, but chances.

“Given he’s going past the full-back so easily for so long, surely you should know you have to be on the front foot?” said Moore.

“Had we a natural scorer in there, we win that game.”

If the supply route is good, the end-product needs to be right too.

Moore must identify his best combination in the attacking areas for Notts County over the next two days.

The 4-4-1-1 system had looked the most effective with Jake Gray operating behind a main striker - Fenwick against Wycombe and Ellis Harrison at Cambridge.

It did not work quite so well with Rakish Bingham against the Grecians.

Moore has the bonus of having Billy Paynter back though he may hold his skipper back for next week when Pools host Stevenage and Yeovil in the space of five days.

If the manager starts with Luke James at Meadow Lane, Moore probably has a straight choice between Paynter and Fenwick.