Padraig Amond: Hartlepool United close to becoming complete package

Padraig Amond.
Picture: TOM BANKS
Padraig Amond. Picture: TOM BANKS

Striker Padraig Amond reckons Hartlepool United are within touching distance of becoming the complete package.

While Pools have always carried a threat in the final third this season, the Irishman admits there have been question marks over Craig Hignett’s men in a defensive sense.

But now the players have managed to shut the back door, having kept their first clean sheet against Mansfield a week and a half ago, following that up with a stoic rearguard action at top of the table Plymouth, Amond reckons Pools are close to showing League Two just what they are all about.

“We are so close to the complete package,” he said ahead of tonight’s meeting with third placed Luton Town.

“And if we had held on for the win on Saturday it would have been one of the best performances under the gaffer since he came in.

“The lads in the dressing room talk about the Morecambe game last season quite a bit.

“They say how good that result was - I wasn’t here then - but when you come to Plymouth, who have won seven in a row, and are disappointed not to win it shows what we are all about.

“I think we have turned the corner and we are so close to a complete performance.

“That we are so close is a good thing as it shows what we are capable of doing.”

While Pools have proven they are more than capable on the road this season, taking the Stevenage debacle out of the equation, they have been found wanting on home turf.

At the Northern Gas & Power Stadium they have played four times, drawing three times and losing once, to Notts County in mid August.

When you add on both of last season’s final two homes games - loses to Portsmouth and Accrington Stanley - you have to go back five months to April 16 and a 2-1 win over relegated York City to find the last time they picked up three points at the Vic.

Amond says the players are determined to end this run of games with a victory over the Hatters this evening.

“Luton is a big game for us,” he said.

“We are at home and we’ve been unlucky on occasions in front of our own fans so far this season.

“It’s just been a case of missing the odd chance or making wrong decisions. But we have been putting in some decent performances.

“This is a big one for us. But we know it is going to be a tough one, too, as Luton won again at the weekend.”

Plymouth has to be the benchmark for Pools, according to Amond.

He says it is no good putting in performances like that against a team at the top, then letting their standards drop against the rest.

“Plymouth has set the standards,” said the 28-year-old, signed from Saturday’s opponents Grimsby Town in the summer.

“We were very good defensively and we looked good going forward. We were dangerous on the break.

“So far this season we’ve been free-flowing and a bit shaky at the back.

“Now we have changed things and we have gone a bit more solid and catching teams on the break really well.

“The aim now has to be to go on a good run and push up the table where we should be.”

While Josh Laurent caught the eye with his energy, Toto Nsiala with his aerial prowess and widemen Nathan Thomas and Lewis Alessandra with their pace and direct running, the performance of Amond went under the radar a bit.

But his tireless running as a lone frontman was vital to securing the point. Of his day, he said: “The gaffer asked me to play up front on my own - it’s hard but I will do it for the team.

“Maybe it took a little bit away from me going forward, but maybe my running opening things up for other players. I’m willing to do whatever I can for the team.”