Hartlepool United boss Moore lavishes praise on livewire Connor Smith

Connor Smith in action against Bury
Connor Smith in action against Bury

RONNIE Moore admits livewire Connor Smith surprised even him with his all-round display on his full debut in a Hartlepool United shirt.

Moore said Smith deserved his chance given his recent form for the reserves and he believes the 18-year-old gives the side a “different option” up front.

The teenager was handed his first start in the 1-0 defeat to Bury in Sky Bet League Two, with experienced striker Marlon Harewood left on the bench.

Smith partnered on-loan Plymouth Argyle striker Marvin Morgan and was one of the standout performers, despite Pools suffering their 20th league defeat.

Moore told SportMail he’d thought long and hard over whether to start with the teenager or on-loan Middlesbrough forward Jordan Jones – but didn’t regret his choice.

“I was pleased with Connor Smith, he came in and ran about and chased on his debut,” Moore told SportMail.

“He is a fresh option and I said to him that all that was missing was a goal – he gives us something different up front.

“Connor did well but it was a hard decision for me [to start him].

“I looked at how we played up top [against Stevenage] and I wasn’t pleased with that.

“So you look at the squad at your disposal and we thought how could we get in behind defences and get some energy and pace up there?

“I could have played Jordan Jones but Connor has done well for the reserves just recently and he has impressed.

“He did well against Bury – better than I thought he would have done – and he chased, harried and got in behind people.

“We didn’t have shot after shot but the wide men needed to give us more quality.

“If they can do that then as a group we had a good shape, a solid 4-4-2 with two banks of four that worked well.”

Moore recently sent 21-year-old midfielder Lewis Hawkins out on loan to Evo-Stik First Division North club Spennymoor Town and Smith was set to follow him out the door on a loan spell.

But Scott Fenwick’s ankle injury, which will keep him out for up to six weeks, means Smith is needed for first team duties for the foreseeable.

Moore is still trying to add another striker to the squad, with a deal for Cambridge United striker Ryan Bird, 27, understood to have collapsed on Friday.

The Pools boss is hoping the deal can be resurrected, especially given the Us have signed striker Matt Harrold on loan from Crawley Town until the end of the season.

“There was a chance that Connor could have been going out on loan and it just shows how quickly football changes,” added Moore.

“I am still trying to get a striker in but fingers crossed on that.

“Fenwick has killed us with his injury, I could have changed it round with Morgan, Harewood and this other lad.

“It would have given us better options but unfortunately Fenwick is out for a while now.

“He will be frustrated because he had been doing well.”