Craig Harrison wanted to freshen up his Hartlepool United side – and what a result.
The Pools boss made four changes to his starting XI on Tuesday night on the back of two defeats in three games and successive blanks in each.
He’s a very good player, in the last two season’s he has played a lot of games for CambridgeCRAIG HARRISON
So bad was last Saturday’s 2-0 home reverse to Aldershot Town that Pools did not have one effort on target.
Fast forward to Tuesday night against Halifax – Pools were two up inside seven minutes and had the points in the bag by the half hour.
Pools were in no way flattered by the final scoreline of 4-0 – the match could easily have ended 8-4!
Harrison reverted to his favoured 4-3-3 formation and sent out a new midfield unit of Nicky Featherstone, Michael Woods and Conor Newton.
As Harrison commented, Featherstone “conducted” the Pools orchestra, while Woods was the inspiration by setting up three of the goals including the final strike of the evening from Newton.
The dominant and dynamic display from the midfield marvels fully justified the selection by Harrison, who left out Luke George and switched Nicky Deverdics to right-back, while Jonathan Franks missed out through injury.
“The midfield balance was good, Woodsy and Conor are both front-foot players,” said the manager.
“They are very energetic and the stats from Tuesday show they ran more than 12k in the game and a lot of that was high energy stuff.
“They are on the front foot and Woodsy came out with three assists and Conor got a goal.
“Both played huge parts in the game.
“Nicky is Nicky, he’s fantastic, he sits in and conducts play, pulls the strings, moves the ball and makes himself available in every position.”
Woods was exceptional on his recall to the starting XI, possibly no shock given the form he was in during the run of one defeat in 13.
It was the display of Newton which was as good a talking point as any.
The 25-year-old, a summer signing from Cambridge, started the first six matches of the season, only to lose his place after the Fylde debacle.
Newton was relegated to the bench and sat behind Harrison for the next six games before dropping out of the squad completely with a foot problem.
But the Geordie is back and, judging by Tuesday night’s work, back firing on all cylinders.
“He’s a very good player, in the last two season’s he has played a lot of games for Cambridge.
“He missed most of pre-season and then had an injury.
“It’s only the last two weeks the injury has completely healed.
“He’s played with bone bruising which doesn’t sound much but it’s a pain in the backside.
“The pain threshold has been reached, he’s felt it every time he struck the ball.
“Now he’s fit we will see the true Conor Newton.
Harrison is likely to send out the same midfield formation at Ebbsfleet on Saturday, when Pools will be chasing back-to-back victories for the first time since mid-October.