Craig Hignett believes Hartlepool United will pull clear of danger if they can play like they did in the second half against Notts County for the rest of the season.
Pools squandered another game in hand when they lost 3-2 to the Magpies at Victoria Park last night.
I told them ‘well done for the second half’ after the game.
It was the proverbial game of two halves as Pools followed an abject opening 45 minutes with a rousing second period.
Hignett’s side showed tremendous character to hit back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 before Jon Stead’s 80th-minute headed winner saw them end empty-handed.
Pools stayed 21st, but are now just three points above the drop zone after York City climbed out of the bottom two with a 2-0 home win over Exeter.
But Hignett is staying on the front foot, buoyed by four goals in his opening two matches and the spirit shown in the second half last night.
“While the result was disappointing, there were positives,” said the new manager.
“We’re still above the bottom two, have games in hand and we’ll keep working and improving, I’m sure about that.
“What I’ve seen so far, I’m more than pleased with.
“If we play like we did in the second half for the rest of the season then we’ll win more games than we’ll lose.
“I told them ‘well done for the second half’ after the game.
“They showed belief, character and bottle - at 2-0 and playing the way we did, they could have crumbled.
“But they didn’t and we were terrific in the second half, playing with passion, creating some really good chances.
“Yes there are bits to work on, but at the same time I’m pleased we scored two goals again.
“Goals change games and we had great chances in the second half and their keeper has made a few saves he’s not known a great deal about.”
While Pools still have two games in hand on Yeovil and Dagenham & Redbridge below them, it adds the pressure on ahead of Saturday’s trip to Luton Town.
But Hignett believes Pools can get something from the trip to Kenilworth Road.
“Saturday will be tough at Luton - they are all hard games,” he told SportMail. “But anyone can beat anyone in this league,
“We’ll take the positives from last night and learn from what we didn’t do right.
“We’ll look tomorrow to see how the lads are in training and then go again on Saturday.”
Pools will need to work on their ball retention.
The conditions did not help - Pools were playing into the teeth of the gale in the first half and were wasteful in possession, though, to Hignett’s credit he did not use the wind as an excuse.
“I was disappointed with the passing, where we were trying to pass it and how we were trying to pass it,” he said.
“Trying to keep the ball on the floor was as good a tactic as anything [in the first half].
“But there is a time and a place to do it.
“I’ve said to the lads ‘if you can play out, play out’ and they can be brave.
“But at times we were too brave, trying it when it wasn’t on.
“We have to learn where and when we can and can’t do it.
“It was poor in the first half, I’m not going to use the wind as an excuse, I just think we didn’t start well, we were on the back foot from the off
“But, as I said after we beat Yeovil on Saturday, we’ll win as a team and we’ll lose as a team.
“We’ll take this on the chin, learn from it and be better for it.”