Niko Muir reveals why his Hartlepool targets will keep evolving after overcoming FA Cup ‘pressure’

Hartlepool United's Niko Muir runs away to celebrate after putting them into a 1-0 lead against Kidsgrove Athletic.
Hartlepool United's Niko Muir runs away to celebrate after putting them into a 1-0 lead against Kidsgrove Athletic.

Hartlepool United’s FA Cup victory over Kidsgrove Athletic made an interesting change for Niko Muir.

A year ago, the striker was plying his trade for Hendon and was used to being the underdog in ties of this nature.

Niko Muir.

Niko Muir.

But fast forward 12 months and the frontman was taking on a new role as favourite - one which he feels comes with an added pressure.

It was a pressure that Muir and his teammates dealt with in the end, after a tricky tie against the Northern Premier League outfit.

Indeed, the Staffordshire side looked bright at the Super 6 Stadium in an approach which surprised many - but not Muir given his prior experiences.

And the 25-year-old revealed the warning he issued to his teammates in the build-up to the time as he drew upon his knowledge of previous cup clashes.

“I’ve been in that changing room before, I knew how they were going to come out,” he admitted.

“For me, I wasn’t surprised because I’ve been on that side and know how it is.

“To the other boys it may have been a surprise, but I said to the boys I’m living with that they were going to come at us.

“They have nothing to lose and that’s the way they see it.”

While used to being the underdog, the role reversal has failed to stifle Muir - who netted from close range in the 1-0 win.

That strike secured the all-important for Pools, who pocketed a welcome financial reward as well as earning their place in the first round proper of the famous competition.

And Muir was pleased with how his side battled to victory after overcoming the ‘pressure’ of a potential banana skin.

“It’s more pressure for us to get the win, but we got the job done and everyone is happy,” he added.

“It was 11v11 and anything could have happened.

“As I said, I’ve been on the other side and know what it’s like to play against a bigger team.

“You raise your game, and then you raise it even more in front of a bigger crowd.

“The performance could have been better and we all know that, but it’s another result and a clean sheet.”

The striker’s goal on Saturday was his fifth of the season - with only Liam Noble have netted more for Pools this season.

And while Hartlepool’s problems in front of goal have been well-documented this season, the emergence of Muir has been a real positive - with the club’s scouting team worthy of praise after they plucked him from the depths of non-league.

But while he has impressed in his first season at National League level, the former QPR triallist is refusing to rest on his laurels.

He admitted that his goalscoring targets will keep on evolving as the season progresses as he strives for more and more success in front of goal.

“I set targets in my head, but I don’t really tell them to anyone,” he said.

“I keep them in my head and then when I reach the target, I set another one to get to and so on and so forth.”