Hartlepool United confident of a good Easter against Carlisle United and Leyton Orient

Liam Donnelly in action at Morecambe.
Liam Donnelly in action at Morecambe.

Liam Donnelly insists Hartlepool United’s players remain “fairly confident” of a successful Easter programme.

Pools go into a critical double weekend in even deeper trouble in the League Two relegation battle.

There is pressure but we’re good enough to compete with any team


The ‘cushion’ with the bottom two is now just three points going into Good Friday’s match with faltering promotion candidates Carlisle United at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium and Easter Monday’s visit to doomed Leyton Orient.

Pools halted a three-match losing sequence with a fighting point at Morecambe, where they drew 1-1.

However, Newport County won again, a superb victory at Exeter City, to move ever closer to Pools and Cheltenham Town.

But Donnelly says that while the “pressure” is on, Pools still have the self-belief.

“We have two massive games coming in quick succession,” said the Northern Ireland U21 defender.

“But we are fairly confident going into both games and hopefully we’ll get three points from each.

“There is pressure but we’re good enough to compete with any team in this league.

“We’ve shown that and we need to keep showing that coming into the final run of the season and start winning games.”

Given Pools have the worst away record in League Two, Donnelly, wisely, viewed it as a point gained rather than two points dropped.

In fairness, a draw was a fair outcome at the end of quite an open, entertaining match.

Pools controlled the first half and should have had a more comfortable interval advantage than a 39th-minute Padraig Amond goal following some clever inter-play between Michael Woods and Lewis Alessandra.

However, Morecambe applied considerable second-half pressure and deserved their equaliser just before the hour from Paul Mullin as the Shrimps put the brakes on a seven-match losing run.

”We had chances to take all three points,” said Donnelly.

“We gave them a few chances as well so we’re obviously disappointed defensively.

“We probably should have kept the goal out, but a point is better than none.

“The first half we were very dominant and played some good stuff, got it wide, made chances.

“But in the second half we were too narrow.

“We had chances and we should have had a few more goals.

“We’re disappointed with that but it’s also down to the defence and the goalkeeper to keep the ball out of our own net as well.

“It’s not a bad point coming away from home.

“We’ve not been doing great away from home this season so you have to be happy enough with a draw.

“But it’s disappointing still not to take all three.”

The first-half performance though proved what Pools can do and had Rhys Oates had his sights more finely tuned it could easily have been 3-0 at the break.

However, Donnelly is not complaining about the overall performance.

Pools shaded it in terms of possession, 53%-47%, shots 11-10 and corners 6-5 – not bad stats for Dave Jones’s side away from the Vic.

“I think we played some decent stuff and created a few more and we’d have obviously liked to have taken more than one of them,” said Donnelly, who was preferred to NIcky Deverdics at left-back, with teenager Kenton Richardson resuming down the right.

“Morecambe probably had a bit of a telling off at half-time.

“They really came at us in the second half but I think we withstood it for a while so it’s disappointing we couldn’t keep them out the whole game.

“It was quite end-to-end at times and Morecambe played some decent stuff as well when they got the ball down.”