Michael Woods means much more than goals to Pools - Matthew Bates

Michael Woods means much more to Hartlepool United than just his goals, according to caretaker Matthew Bates.

The midfielder netted his 10th and 11th goals of the season on Good Friday in the relegation battle victory over Maidstone United.

It’s by far his most successful season in front of goal, and while Bates is delighted to have such a clinical midfielder within his ranks, he says Woods’ influence in other areas cannot be understated.

Bates said: “I am a big fan of Woodsy.

“He is a hard worker and is massively important for us as a team.

“The younger lads look up to him in the dressing-room and he is respected by everyone.

“He is a leader in there for us.”

Woods showed a striker’s instinct to slot home Pools’ opener at the Gallagher Stadium, and composure to tuck in the eventual winner from the spot with just a minute left to play.

It’s a far cry from the Woods of old, who, by his own admission would snatch at things in the area.

“We didn’t have a designated penalty taker on the pitch, but Woods showed the character and confidence to want to take it,” he said.

“Liam Donnelly would normally have that responsibility, but he wanted it and stuck it away.”

Under Bates, Woods has been given a new lease of life.

Many of his goals this season came before the caretaker and coincidentally the January window, when he was blocked from making a move back to the Football League by the powers that be, with a host of League One and League Two clubs sniffing.

But he’s back firing in front of goal for Pools, as they edge away from the relegation zone.

And Bates thinks it’s a lot to do with his role and position.

“He is prospering,” said Bates.

“In possession he has a real free role for us. He has the licence to go where he wants when we have the ball and he showed the intelligence he has by following in for the first goal.”