Paddy McLaughlin reflects on Hartlepool United’s difficult National League start

Paddy McLaughlin in action on Saturday.
Paddy McLaughlin in action on Saturday.

Hartlepool United’s start to the National League season has been far from ideal, according to Paddy McLaughlin.

But the midfielder says the opening exchanges in what can be a long, protracted war will not necessarily define Pools’ fifth-tier success.

Northern Irishman McLaughlin, who started his first game in blue and white in the 1-0 home loss to Ebbsfleet, accepts no win from the opening three is not what Poolies would be expecting, especially after a relatively positive summer.

But he points to his experience at Gateshead last season and the example of eventual winners Macclesfield, as reasons not to be gloomy, just yet.

“This happens,” said summer signing McLaughlin, ahead of tonight’s trip to Braintree Town.

“Off the top of my head, Macclesfield were at the International Stadium early on last season and we put three past them and sent them packing. They went on to win the league.

“Every team wants a great start but things don’t always work out that way. We have got to trust what we are doing and it will come.”

Performance-wise, Pools were far from poor at the weekend.

A defensive mix-up and some poor finishing took the shine off what was a dominant display on home turf. But results are all that matter in this game and for Pools it was another winless weekend.

McLaughlin hopes to change all that this evening, down at Cressing Road.

“In general we had a good spell in the first half when we controlled the tempo of things,” he said of the Ebbsfleet loss.

“We created the majority of the chances and I do not believe Loachy has had a lot to do.

“On another day we could have scored a couple of goals - for large parts we dominated. That is hugely disappointing.

“I fully expected us to go on and win the game. I never felt like we were really under much pressure until the goal.

“To come away with nothing was a kick in the teeth.

“The performances have been there the three games. We need to stick to the process. And things will come good.”

McLaughlin came the closest to netting his first goal for his new club when he saw a shot, bound for the top corner, tipped away. He also got a header horribly wrong as Pools pushed for an equaliser.

On his goalmouth exploits, the midfielder said: “The header, me and Marcus have got in each other’s way. We should have sorted that better.

“The second one, I was away and celebrating. I think you have to take your hat off to the keeper. I think everyone in the ground thought that was going in. He has produced a top save.”

Pools lacked a clinical edge of the day and McLaughlin is not all that sure it’s something they need to work on.

The squad have goalscorers within their ranks, it’s just about getting a run of the green, according McLaughlin.

“Picking that right final pass or finishing a chance - is it something we can work on in training? Or is it just something we have to write off as things not falling for us?

“Either way, whatever it was, we have to try and put that right.

“Looking forward, we want to change that against Braintree.”