Hartlepool United’s Matthew Bates discusses tactics, personnel and clean sheets

Hartlepool United's Josh Hawkes during the pre-season friendly against Spennymoor Town.
Hartlepool United's Josh Hawkes during the pre-season friendly against Spennymoor Town.

Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates thinks his 3-4-2-1 system still needs a tweak but he’s happy with how it’s shaping up ahead of the National League season.

Speaking after his side recorded an impressive 1-0 win over National League North Spennymoor Town - courtesy of a 21st minute Luke James strike - Bates was full of praise for his Pools side ahead of the new campaign.

“It was a good game for the lads,” said Bates.

“It was as near to a game as we are going to get next season in our friendlies so I was very pleased, especially the first half.

“We didn’t come out of the blocks for the second half like we did in the first. We stopped doing what we had been doing in the first half, but overall I was pleased.

“It was as realistic a friendly as you could get.

“It was a proper football game, with a little bit of needle towards the end which is good to have.”

On keeping their second clean sheet in a week, Bates said: “They had a couple of shots in the second half we’ll need to look back at.

“There is still work to be done on the training field on our shape and our system.

“But I have to say the lads are really applying themselves to training and bringing it out in the games.

“The system works in lots of ways, especially in an attacking sense but it’s also left us a bit open going the other way, so we’ll need to look at that.”

Midfielder Paddy McLaughlin is set to return to full first-team training this week, after time on the sidelines with a virus.