Hartlepool United fully focused on Southend United

MAKING HIS POINT: Paul Murray on the sidelines during the game against East Thurrock United. Picture by FRANK REID
MAKING HIS POINT: Paul Murray on the sidelines during the game against East Thurrock United. Picture by FRANK REID

PAUL Murray insists his Hartlepool United squad won’t be distracted by the FA Cup run as they look to climb off the bottom of the Football League.

Pools are rooted to the foot of Sky Bet League Two with 12 points from their opening 16 matches after picking up just three wins all season.

In a welcome break from league action last weekend Pools beat East Thurrock United 2-0 to make it through to the FA Cup second round and a televised North East derby at home to Blyth Spartans.

Murray is looking forward to the fixture but is adamant the focus remains on getting results in the league.

“We would have liked to have won by more against East Thurrock but it was a tough game – it always was going to be,” said Murray.

“Blyth at home is a good North East tie and they will bring a few supporters and it’s a chance for both to progress to round three.

“I’ve thought about round three a little as last year at Oldham we made it to Anfield, we made a bit of money and did the club proud, it was very good.

“It’s a nice distraction for now but concentration is on the league and getting away from the bottom.

“If we can pick up some results between now and the Blyth game then it will make for an exciting cup tie.

“But we need points to move off the bottom.”

That challenge continues tomorrow at Phil Brown’s Southend United, who are seventh in League Two but without a win at home in their last four matches.

The Pools squad made the 280-mile trip this morning, not that a long trek south is an alien concept for the players who are used to life on the road.

Murray said: “It’s a long trip, but all of ours are aren’t they?

“It’s all about mindset. They will look at us and think about us coming all that way, feeling tired.

“But I see it, if I was playing, would be look to put in 90 minutes of absolute graft.

“Give your all for 90 minutes.

“There’s no midweek game to come, give your all and that’s the message to get across.

“Southend haven’t won at home in a while, that’s a fact.

“We will be trying to add to that and get a result because we have to pick up points in the league.

“I ask the lads to keep progressing and improve a couple of percent on each game - keep getting better and you have a chance.”

Murray has now been in charge for three weeks after taking over following Colin Cooper’s resignation and he is enjoying his first stab at management.

He is being assisted by Willie Donachie, while player coach Sam Collins is heavily involved in the coaching set-up.

“It’s a busy position being manager,” said the former Oldham Athletic assistant.

“At Oldham, things used to get filtered down to us, but that’s not happened yet as I like to keep hands on when I can.

“I know in a few weeks it will spread out more when we get some unit stuff done and I will be more than happy to say “Sam, you do that”, I’ll look after the midfielders, Willie the defence and we did some of that yesterday.

“So far I’ve been quite hands-on but I will loosen my grip a bit. It’s a new job and I want to get my ideas across.”