Hartlepool United boss issues warning to squad ahead of Oxford United test

Luke James
Luke James

Craig Hignett will not allow his players to “coast” through to the end of the season.

Hartlepool United are, of course, safe in League Two and have been for some time.

But the manager does not want Pools to take it easy and is looking for a big performance at third-placed Oxford United tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

“I won’t stand for an end-of-season coasting mentality, people looking forward to their holidays, that’s not me, that won’t be from my team either,” said Hignett, who is likely to recall Carl Magnay, Nicky Featherstone amnd Luke James to his starting XI tomorrow.

“I want people to push themselves.

“We have three great games to play against Oxford, Portsmouth and Plymouth, all teams up there.

“Oxford will be hard but we’ll certainly be up for it and I won’t let us drift until the end of the season. I want to finish on a high.”

A victory – or a draw – at the Kassam Stadium would certainly help Pools end the campaign on a bright note.

It won’t be easy – Michael Appleton’s side need a victory tomorrow top stay in the top three,

A mere two points separate Accrington in second and Bristol Rovers in fifth and with just three games left, wins are vital for the four clubs chasing the two remaining automatic places.

“Oxford have had a great season, even though they were beaten by Barnsley at Wembley in the JPT,” said Hignett.

“They are a good footballing side with good individuals.

“They will play football, Michael Appleton wants to play football.

“But I’ve said all along, it’s not what other teams do that bothers me, it’s how we approach things and how we play.

“If we’re right and on it, we are a match for anyone in this league and I mean anyone.

“To do that we need to have the right attitude and mentality.”

Hignett was a little unhappy with that mentality in Tuesday night’s 2-1 home defeat to Accrington.

Stanley were allowed too much room to play in the first half, though Pools looked much more like their normal selves in the second period.

“We had a little gauge of things against Accrington – second in the league and a really good side,” said Hignett.

“[Manager] John Coleman was complimentary about us after the game and we controlled the second half.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get anything out of the game given the way we played in the second half but the first half wasn’t good enough.

“Looking at the Accrington match, with the XI we have played in recent weeks I am confident we would have given them more than a game.”

Hignett will therefore be looking for a reaction tomorrow.

“Against Accrington we didn’t show the urgency or energy, but maybe that’s my fault for changing a lot.

“I would never pick out any individuals, it’s a team thing and as a team we struggled.”