What did Hartlepool United learn from their Checkatrade Trophy campaign? Little to nothing, says manager Craig Hignett.
The gaffer had hoped that a number of his first-team fringe men would give him a weekend headache with their performance against League One Rochdale last night.
But he admits very few stood up to the plate as he had hoped.
Hignett said: “I thought it was poor. It was a good chance for the fringe players to give me a decision on Saturday. Not many did.
“We didn’t start anywhere near where we should.
“The players were nowhere near as good as they are in training.
“It was frustrating. Maybe it was because we are already out, but, as a pro, you can’t do that. I was disappointed with last night as a whole.”
The gaffer says his players did little in the game until they were two goals down, which came courtesy of Reuben Noble Lazarus and Matthew Gillam.
It was only late on when Pools rallied and netted through Rhys Oates.
Hignett continued: “It was easy doing that when the game was lost.
“Maybe that was the state of mind we were in.
“It was a game I didn’t want.
“I don’t know how this game was teaching any of the kids anything.
“It was just like playing a reserve game.
“But they are pros and if you have ambition you have to do well.
“I was a pro and it doesn’t matter what level I was playing at.
“I’m not sure some the lads have the same attitude as me.”
One player who was able to stand up and be counted was Oates.
The youngster was sent out on loan to Gateshead earlier this season, but he looks set to get a few chances, given injuries to Tom Heardman, Bradley Fewster and Nathan Thomas.
Hignett says he was impressed by his goalscorer on an otherwise forgettable night for Pools.
“He has done really well,” he said.
“He did more in 20 minutes than they rest did in the whole game.
“He did himself the world of good.”
Matthew Bates did get another 45 minutes under his belt and came out unscathed, but others such as Rob Jones, who has not kicked a ball since September 10, were not risked.
Hignett explained: “I couldn’t risk anyone.
“I would rather have had a league game.
“It was a chance for some to prove they were worth their place. I’m not sure how much we learned.”