Hartlepool Utd can put ‘crazy’ start to season to bed with Carlisle Utd

Scott Flinders in action against Portsmouth. Picture by FRANK REID
Scott Flinders in action against Portsmouth. Picture by FRANK REID

SCOTT Flinders believes Hartlepool United have made a “crazy” start to the season but is hoping for a more confident display against Carlisle United.

The Pools stopper – who has tried to play down the importance of tomorrow’s bottom-of-the-table match at Victoria Park – has kept three consecutive clean sheets on home soil in recent weeks.

But some disappointing results on the road – including the 5-1 hammering at Northampton Town and the 2-0 loss at Plymouth Argyle – see Pools sitting third bottom in Sky Bet League Two.

Flinders said he was pleased to see his side “stop the rot” with a goalless draw at home to Portsmouth last Saturday.

“It has been a crazy start to the season and we are back on that rollercoaster so we need to get ourselves back on a level,” Flinders told SportMail.

“We cannot play really well against Shrewsbury Town [2-0 win] and then play like we did against Northampton.

“We really need to get a bit of consistency now, we are going into our 11th game of the season and need to start bedding down by being more consistent.

“It was nice last weekend to put the rot of the previous two away games to bed.

“We needed to steady the ship and I thought we did that and had the better chances last weekend.

“It is still early and a couple of wins you can get into mid-table and then progress from there and look into the play-offs.

“But we have to take it game by game and then confidence levels will grow.

“Hopefully you will see a confident display against Carlisle.

“It is a local-ish derby but for me it is still early days.

“I know we are near the bottom of the table but we are still developing as a team.

“It is a big game but some people have said it is a six-pointer – it is too early for that.”

What is clear though is the urgent need to address the goalscoring problem with just five league goals scored by Colin Cooper’s side this season.

Flinders said the challenge to the strikers - Jonathan Franks, Marlon Harewood and Charlie Wyke - is to score the goals in order to relieve some of the pressure on the defenders.

Starting tomorrow against bottom side Carlisle United.

Flinders added: “Our challenge now is to keep that back door shut and go and score some goals - goals are what we have been lacking since the start of the season.

“That is the challenge to the forward lads.

“It is a team game but we need to start scoring to push us further up the table.

“We have had a settled back four and especially at home we have defended really well.

“I don’t like talking about clean sheets until the end of the season but hopefully that continues and we can get score a few goals on top of that.”

Keith Curle could have former Pools midfielder Antony Sweeney in his midfield at the weekend, the 31-year-old left the club in the summer after turning down a contract offer for a new opportunity.

The 6ft 4” stopper believes Sweeney deserves a warm welcome on his return to Victoria Park - if he manages to shake off a shoulder injury in time.

Flinders, who played with the midfielder for five years, said: “We all know what Sweens is like and he deserves a good applause from the fans if he plays.

“He was a decent servant and we will welcome him with open arms.

“But as soon as the whistle blows it is us against them.”