Hartlepool United-Dagenham: Fast start and clean sheet needed says Craig Harrison

Hartlepool United 3-1 Maidstone United, Vanarama League. Victoria Park, Hartlepool. 02-09-2027. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United 3-1 Maidstone United, Vanarama League. Victoria Park, Hartlepool. 02-09-2027. Picture by FRANK REID
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Craig Harrison says the first goal will be vital when Hartlepool United tackle National League leaders Dagenham & Redbridge tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Pools have won both of the games in which they have taken the lead this season – the back to back victories over Guiseley and Maidstone lifting them out of the bottom four.

We’ve played some great football, but we have to start with the same ehic that no-one works harder than us

Craig Harrison

“The facts are out there,” said Harrison.

“If you score the first goal then you have an 80% chance of not being beaten.

“Taking the lead is massive, we’ve scored first in the last two games and win them both.”

It is match one of a vital eight days when Pools face the top three – they follow tomorrow’s acid test at Wrexham (third) on Tuesday and Orient a week tomorrow.

Dagenham & Redbridge are the top dogs in the division, leading the table on goal difference from Leyton Orient.

The Daggers are the only side in the division, who remain unbeaten, thanks to four wins and four draws.

But the most impressive stat is they have rattled off 19 goals in their eight games.

However, while they are productive in the opposition box, they are not the most solid at the other end, conceding 11, which is one more than Pools have leaked.

That stat will give Pools encouragement, the leaders have kept only one clean sheet.

“It does, especially after coming off the back of such a good win last weekend against Maidstone,” said Harrison.

“We had double figures in shots on target, with seven, eight, nine, 10 corners too.

“We almost kept a clean sheet too – conceding in the last minute – and I believe if we keep a clean sheet [tomorrow] we have a fantastic chance of winning the game.

“Yes, they are a good team, yes, it will be tough but it’s important to start well at the Vic and get at them from the off like Maidstone.

“We are going to have to work very hard in every game, whether we are playing the bottom of the league or the top.

“The last two games our work ethic has been fantastic and while we’ve won two, we’ve been getting into their heads that we are starting again from zero this weekend.

“We’ve played some great football, but we have to start with the same ehic that no-one works harder than us.

“We need to be strong, aggressive and win our individual battles, if we do that you’d like to think the quality will come to the fore.”

Harrison is keen to see Pools build on those two wins.

“Good teams have good habits of not giving bad goals away and the last two matches have been great,” said the boss . “I don’t like to single out individuals but I must say Keith Watson has been excellent.

“It’s about finding consistency now and us going on an unbeaten run, seven, eight, nine games to get right in the mix.”