Matthew Bates backs Pools to find their cutting edge after Billingham draw

Pools boss Matthew Bates is backing his side to become more clinical
Pools boss Matthew Bates is backing his side to become more clinical

Matthew Bates is backing his Hartlepool United players to find their clinical side after their 1-1 draw with Billingham Town.

Pools kicked-off their pre-season preparations with the stalemate at Bedford Terrace despite dominating throughout.

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A number of chances were squandered as Pools - whose seven new signings all featured - were forced to settle for a draw.

Indeed, it took a moment of magic from trialist Harry Middleton to salvage any sort of result, with his fine effort from outside the area levelling the scores after Craig Hutchinson's opener.

But despite the missed opportunities, Bates believes that Pools will begin to finish off their chances as pre-season progresses.

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The boss - taking charge of his first game after being handed the job on a permanent basis - was pleased with the early run-out for his side.

"It was a good workout and we tried a new shape which I thought worked well," said Bates.

"Taking the result aside, I thought there was some good stuff.

"The final ball and finishing, that will come, but I'm pleased with the performance."

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Bates trialled a new system during the first half, which saw three centre backs flanked by some attack-minded wing-backs.

It was a system that Pools have worked on vigorously during pre-season and Bates was pleased with its first outing.

"We worked on a few things in training which we wanted to see, and we saw them," he added.

"The wing-backs were high and caused them problems. They were our creative threat a lot of the time.

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"I think we dominated the game, dominated the possession of the ball and dominated the territory as well.

"It would have been nice to win, of course, but it's one of those things."

One moment of concern for Pools' fans came when new signing Paddy McLaughlin was withdrawn early in the second half.

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The former Gateshead midfielder featured for just ten minutes and Bates explained why he was unable to continue - while remaining hopeful that he would return to training ahead of the new week.

"He just said he felt his chest was tight during the warm-up at half-time," said the Pools boss.

"He said he would give it a go, but he didn't feel quite right.

"I think if it were a proper game then he would have played on, but we didn't want to take the risk.

"He'll be in touch with the physios today and tomorrow and hopefully he'll be fine come Monday."