Hartlepool United must cut out stupid mistakes – Liam Donnelly

Liam Donnelly returned for Pools at Colchester
Liam Donnelly returned for Pools at Colchester

Liam Donnelly admitted Hartlepool United cannot afford to keep making defensive lapses.

It is a recurring theme for Pools and frank words from the defender given he was at fault for one of Colchester United’s goals in the 2-1 defeat at the Weston Homes Stadium.

Pools were already behind after dangerman Kurtis Guthrie headed the U’s into a 63rd-minute lead when Richard Brindley crossed after the away side had given the ball away.

The second goal saw Donnelly, crucially, get on the wrong side of the aforementioned Guthrie.

It was his only mistake, compounded by the fact he made contact with the striker who went down in instalments.

Referee Ben Toner pointed to the spot and Chris Porter’s emphatic striker from 12 yards beat Joe Fryer.

Pools came back fighting and Nathan Thomas pulled a goal back but it was not enough.

Like any true defender worth his salt, Donnelly pleaded his innocence though did not exactly Mr Toner of getting it wrong.

“You could see where he was coming from,” said the 20-year-old.

“I got on the wrong side of him, he’s got in front of me

“I think he was looking for it, trying to get any contact he could.

“If there’s any sort of contact and the lad goes down he’s going to give it.”

It is to the credit of Donnelly – and boss Dave Jones – that there were no hissy fits about the match official costing them the game.

Instead, Donnelly insisted Pools must eradicate their mistakes if they are to claw their way to safety from 22nd in the table.

“We were hoping to come away with at least a point but a couple of times we switched off and that cost us,” said the Northern Ireland U21 international.

“We need to cut those out, because we pose quite a threat going forward.

“We kept the ball well and looked dangerous – we just need to shore up at the back.

“I think we controlled things in the first half.

“They came at us in the second half a bit more but when we got the ball on the floor we looked dangerous and scored a good goal.

“Goals win games and, as a defender, it’s up to us to keep the ball out of our net.”

There was some pretty attacking play to admire from the team in pink.

Thomas beat Sam Walker after a slick move and pass from Michael Woods while there were blocked late shots by Thomas and skipper Nicky Featherstone.

“We put them on the back foot, even before the last 15,” said Donnelly.

“It shows what we can do when we believe in ourselves, we caused them problems.

“It was good build-up play and a good goal by Nathan.

“We got into a good few positions the final ball wasn’t quite good enough, myself included.

“I think we need a bit more self-belief because we have shown we are capable of cutting teams apart.”

Donnelly is set to line up again at left-back tomorrow night when Pools host Crewe Alexandra in a relegation six-pointer at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

The Dungannon-born defender returned to the side on Saturday for fellow Irishman, Sean Kavanagh, who was ruled out with a hamstring strain.

It was the ‘wrong’ side for the right-footer, not that he was complaining.

“It’s not my preferred position but I don’t mind as long as I’m playing,” he said. “But if I can fill in somewhere and help out the team I’m happy to play wherever the gaffer wants to use me.”