Hartlepool boss set to tinker at Notts County

Michael Woods celebrates the opening goal
Michael Woods celebrates the opening goal

Craig Hignett is ready to “experiment” when Hartlepool United’s bandwagon goes to Notts County tomorrow night.

Pools scored five times on the road for the first time in 10 years when they hammered Morecambe 5-2 on Saturday.

I can experiment now and see what works and what doesn’t.

The result lifted the rejuvenated side another place in the table, to 16th, and trail Luton now by just five points with six games to go.

It’s now only one defeat in eight for Pools and with their Football League place well and truly secure, Hignett is ready to tinker a little with his side, maybe even a lot.

He made three changes for the match at Morecambe, though two were enforced following injuries to Billy Paynter (hamstring) and Matthew Bates (thigh).

Michael Woods was handed his first start in 12 games and celebrated that with the opening goal at the Globe Arena.

The midfielder’s return was a success story as was Luke James’s first start up the middle, the 21-year-old netting his first goal since scoring for Peterborough at Doncaster in March 2015.

There could be more Hignett surgery tomorrow with Dan Jones, Scott Harrison, Josh Laurent, Brad Walker and Rakish Bingham all candidates for a run-out.

“I can experiment now and see what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

“I’ll probably change it and have a look at different people, I might change the system, I might not.

“I’ve tried different things over the last two games and learned a lot.

“I’ll probably keep doing that.”

And given the way he has transformed Pools, who can question the 46-year-old’s judgement?

The boys in blue took the Shrimps to pieces, scoring twice in the first six minutes through Woods and Thomas, who netted after the break before James and sub Rhys Oates rounded matters off.

It was the first time Pools have gone nap since a 5-3 victory at Peterborough in September 2006.

And it proved the perfect response to the midweek blip at Carlisle.

“I said beforehand that good teams don’t lost two in a row and we haven’t,” he said.

“We kicked on again and that was really pleasing.

“I’m delighted with the players, the way we started was unbelievable.

“I wanted them to pass, to get on the front foot, express themselves and they did exactly that.

“But at 2-1 at half-time I was disappointed as I felt one or two relaxed a bit after that great start.

“I said to them at the break ‘this can go one of two ways – you can drift along and they may score and you might get a point or come back with nothing’.

“Then I said ‘or you can get your foot back on the pedal and pass the ball and play like you have been and win four or five’.

“They got back on it and we punished them. I wanted them to be ruthless and they were.

“I expected a tough game, Jim’s teams are difficult to play against, but with that start, we had a real good platform to go out there and perform.

“I wanted to score more and not relax or for the players to take their foot off the accelerator.

“So I was really pleased with the response in the second half.”