Matthew Bates reveals the key component missing from his struggling Hartlepool United side

Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates believes his players’ National League slump is down to a lack of confidence.

Pools suffered their FOURTH fifth tier loss on the trot against Barnet on Sunday - and it was an all too familiar tale as Bates’ men went in front, only to press self-destruct and lose 3-1.

The manager admits he is concerned by the club’s current form and his players’ performance but says it’s purely a matter of confidence within the ranks.

“Confidence is lacking,” said Bates in the aftermath of the Bees loss.

“And it’s a major thing for us.

“We aren’t going great at home, we all know that.

“We go to Gillingham, put in a great performance and come home and make the wrong decisions a week later.

“It’s something I need to look at. Today (Sunday) wasn’t really good enough.”

A lack of experience in the Pools backline could well account for the defensive errors which proved so dear.

Youngsters Peter Kioso, Mark Kitching and Kenton Richardson were joined by Myles Anderson in the back four, which was starved of the services of Andrew Davies and Carl Magnay for the weekend.

The return of that duo - both of whom are expected to be come back into the starting XI for the FA Cup replay with Gillingham on Wednesday night - is a welcome boost for Bates after a bit of a defensive horror show.

“It was concerning how the goal affected us,” said the manager.

“We went into the game on the back of three defeats. We all want to go on and win it, but individual errors cost us.

“It’s down to a mistake, we all make them as players, but it fges around the rest of the players on the pitch and we didn’t recover from it.

“I said after the game that we can’t go anything as coaches with individual efforts. We are going though a bad spell which we hoped would end today. It’s only the players who can eradicate those mistakes.

“We were without two defenders through suspensions and had a very young back four which was always a worry and we have two players to come back which is massive.”

Despite the errors, Bates is backing his players to put their errors behind them.

“As a defender you have to stick to principles, it’s down the them to make the right divisions on the ball. It’s a team game, we stick together and be honest there,” he said.

“It’s down to everyone to keep going and when they scored the second we allowed it to affect us too much.

“We work in training on the basics, talk about confidence and losing confidence. Simplify things in your head and don’t have things to think about. We will look at the goals and see.”

While the back four did little to paint themselves in a particularly flattering light, there was one beacon from within the gloom.

Richardson on the right really staked a claim to continue in the backline against Gillingham, according to Bates.

“Kenton was good,” he said.

“He was good against Gillingham and has followed that up with a good performance against Barnet under difficult circumstances.

“He is a player who has been knocking on my door a while now and to see him come in, perform and really take is chance, that’s pleasing.”