Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett looks ahead to Chorley in search of second National League win

Craig Hignett feels today's National League opponents Chorley are in a 'similar boat' to his Hartlepool United side.

Saturday, 24th August 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Saturday, 24th August 2019, 9:00 am
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett   during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Sutton United  at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 3rd August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Sutton United at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 3rd August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The newly-promoted Magpies are without a win so far this season with three draws and two defeats leaving them second bottom in the table.

Hartlepool currently sit a point above Chorley in 20th having won just one of their opening five matches. They go into the Bank Holiday weekend matches on the back of a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to Bromley last Saturday.

After drawing their opening three games, Chorley have been heavily beaten in the last two matches, conceding 10 goals. A 4-1 defeat at Maidenhead last time out followed a 6-1 thrashing against Solihull Moors in their previous home game at Victory Park.

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Upon analysing the recent matches, Hignett concluded that both Pools and their opponents are suffering from the same problems.

"After seeing last week and looking at the the game again, I think the majority of our play is really good - it’s just a case of being better in both boxes," said the Pools boss.

"So we’ve been doing a lot of work this week trying to make ourselves harder to play against but at the same time I don’t want to lose the way we look dangerous going forward so it’s finding the balance and doing the basics better than what we have been.

"I’ve seen a lot of Chorley so far this season as well. I know they’ve had two difficult results but the 4-1 at Maidenhead was never a 4-1.

"I watched the game and I thought they were really good in the second half. They were on top, they missed a pen at 2-1 and then conceded two late goals so they’re still getting used to the league because it is unforgiving.

"From what I’ve seen, they’ve played well at Fylde, had a 0-0 draw up there and the only really poor result for them was the Solihull one where they got beat 6-1 but that can happen against Solihull because they’re that sort of team.

"They’ll be fine I’m sure, they’ll approach it the same way they always do and try and play football. They’ve got some good players who will be looking to right the wrongs of the last two games like we are."

Hartlepool's only previous match against the Magpies was a 1-0 FA Cup First Round away win in November 1987. They would no doubt settle for a similar scoreline this weekend.

With the exception of Solihull, Pools have faced four of Chorley's five National League opponents so far in Maidenhead, Fylde, Sutton United and Bromley.

And Hignett feels it's something that has helped his pre-match preparations when doing his homework on the opposition.

"Playing the same teams, it does help and it's a good guide to where they are," he added.

"I’ve seen how they approach games against teams we've already played and they’ve been competitive in a lot of them.

"But they’re probably in a similar boat to us where they’re conceding some silly ones and not taking full advantage at the other end."

In addition to a hectic schedule of matches, Hignett's side are having to compete with an unusually high injury list with Luke Molyneux (leg) and Luke Williams (knee) being ruled out for an extended period.

The likes of Josh Hawkes (hamstring) and Nicke Kabamba (ankle) are back in training though Hignett isn't expecting to be able to field any returning faces at Victory Park this afternoon - and won't be using it as an excuse.

"We’ve been unlucky with injuries but I do feel we’ve been a bit unlucky on the pitch a little bit as well but I can’t keep saying that," continued the Pools boss.

"It’s mainly because we don’t do the basics well enough.

"If we get the basics right we’re more than a match for anyone in this league but we’re not and when you’re not getting the basics right anyone can beat you.

"We’ve got to put that right and we’ve been working hard this week on it and telling the players what to do and when so it’s almost been a walkthrough of how you play the game really."

Following the Bromley defeat, Pools cancelled their Sunday off to come in and prepare for the Bank Holiday double header against Chorley and then back at Victoria Park against Wrexham on Monday.

Hignett has been satisfied with how his players have responded in training though he wants to see them start to convert that onto the pitch.

"They’re always good, their attitude to training has been spot on," he admitted.

"They were all disappointed after Saturday so there wasn’t one player who voiced anything saying that we shouldn’t be in Sunday, they all know and they all want to do better.

"It’s a long season but we want to get things right as quickly as we can so that means cancelling days off until we do.

"There comes a time where you just need to win no matter what it is. I always want to play football and my team to look good doing it but the results are the be all and end all so first and foremost we want to get a positive result at Chorley."