Matthew Bates believes Hartlepool United’s unexpected tactical switch worked perfectly as his side ensured their name is in the hat for the FA Cup second round draw.
Having stuck quite rigidly to a 3-5-2, or variations of that formation, Bates switched to a 4-4-2 for the first time this season.
And the manager thinks it played a big part in his side’s 0-0 draw at Gillingham.
“We limited them to very few chances. The lads really took on what we wanted them to with regards the system,” said Bates, whose side will again face the Gills, this time at the Super 6 Stadium on Wednesday, November 21.
“On another day we could easily have walked away with a win against a good League One side.
“It think anyone who saw the team on the day will know that the system seemed to work well - I think we were solid in defence and a threat in attack.”
Does Bates think Pools can upset Steve Lovell’s side on home turf next week?
“Why not? If we play like that we have a chance,” added Bates.
While there were a number of stand out performances on the day, Bates was particularly pleased with Middlesbrough youngster Tyrone O’Neill, who played the last 20 minutes despite only signing on Friday.
“He did well, he brought a robustness,” said the Pools boss.
“He will not give the opposition any time on the ball but he is also is very good on the ball.
“He comes into contention for next week. We now have four strikers who are all competing for places in the team.”