Hartlepool United will treat Pools v East Thurrock United like FA Cup final

UP FOR THE CUP: Hartlepool United boss Paul Murray. Picture by FRANK REID
UP FOR THE CUP: Hartlepool United boss Paul Murray. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United will be treating their first round tie against East Thurrock United like the FA Cup final itself, says Paul Murray

Boss Murray insists the Sky Bet League Two side are not taking the non-league minnows lightly and he is fully aware upsets can and do happen regularly in the world- famous cup competition.

But the Cumbrian is confident that if his side get off to a good start and perform to the right tempo against the Ryman Premier League side then it could be a fruitful afternoon at Victoria Park tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Pools, bottom of the Football League, have endured an awful campaign so far and Murray is looking to use the cup tie to boost the confidence of his players.

“It’s going to be tough, but it’s enjoyable if you win,” said Murray.

“It’s the joys of the FA Cup – they come here thinking ‘Hartlepool are bottom of the league, it’s a chance for a scalp or a replay’.

“I’m sure if we continue in the way we ended Saturday’s game against Newport it should be a good chance for us to build confidence up.

“It’s about what we do.

“If we perform like we want to, at the standards that have been set and the tempo I want to, then we will give anyone a game – East Thurrock or teams above us.

“It is all about us. We will choose the right personnel for the game and go into it like the FA Cup final.

“This game is a good one, at a good time for us and if we fully perform to my expectations then I would like to think we will get through for sure.

“But the FA Cup is all about a small team beating a bigger team.

“It’s the history of the competition and we set out, like we have done all week, and if we get it right it will be a good chance to get confidence up in the camp.”

East Thurrock, 12th in the Ryman Premier League, will travel to Victoria Park not lacking in confidence.

John Coventry’s side smashed Bath City 7-1 in the fourth preliminary round of the FA Cup with hot-shot striker Sam Higgins bagging a hat-trick and Lewis Smith scoring twice.

Pools, meanwhile, go into the first round tie on the back of a morale-boosting 2-2 draw against Newport County, which saw Murray’s side score twice in the final 10 minutes to secure a point.

Midway through the second-half there were pockets of supporters chanting against the club’s owners but by the end the Vic was bouncing.

Murray wants to see more of that tomorrow.

He added: “Saturday is a good home game for us. We want the crowd to be behind us again.

“The last half hour against Newport was a great atmosphere and the lads said they had not heard that for a while, which was brilliant.

“We want to continue that, but it’s about us doing well and getting the crowd behind us and give them something to shout about.

“We want to play attractive football, we will continue that and hopefully get the crowd on their feet.

“If they can get behind us like they did and the way we finished the game, that will be brilliant.

“We took a good point last week, this is an opportunity to build on that comeback.

“I thought we could have won it at the end, but that might be being too greedy.

“It was just a little stepping stone and showed belief in what we can do.”

Pools (likely): Flinders (C), Duckworth, Harrison, Collins, Austin, Walker, Featherstone, Schmeltz, Franks, Harewood, Wyke.

Subs (from): Hawkins, Richards, Jones, Smith, Woods, Crooks, Green, Holden.

East Thurrock: Hughes, Sammons, Stephen (C), Symons, Wood, Goodacre, Witherspoon, Harris, Higgins, Bryant, Smith.