Hartlepool United’s draw at Leyton Orient was littered with positives - and here’s FIVE major ones which Matthew Bates must take.
While some were left frustrated with the draw given the O’s were a man short for the final half an hour, there was an appreciation that a point was a fair result against one of the division’s in-form sides.
And indeed, many were keen to take the positives from another resilient and impressive away display.
With that in mind, here’s FIVE positives which Pools can take from the trip to Brisbane Road:
1. Fine form on the road is a big boost
Much has been made of Pools’ fine away form - and rightfully so - but the trip to Brisbane Road was always going to a major test of just how good they are on the road.
And it’s a test they passed with flying colours.
Bates has his side set up perfectly away from home, and the 3-5-2 system provides the perfect combination of solidity at the back and strength on the counter-attack.
Hartlepool have only left title-favourites Salford City empty-handed thus far, and fingers crossed that record continues.
2. Substitutes can make a real impact
While Pools may be operating with a thinner squad than in the past, it is packed with quality.
In most, if not all, games this season, Bates has been able to look to the bench and see a game changer - someone to shore things up or make a decisive contribution in an attacking sense.
And this weekend, Conor Netwon, Josh Hawkes and Marcus Dinanga all made a big impact from the bench - with the trio arguably unlucky not to find the net after a string of fine chances.
The squad as a whole will undoubtedly play a part as the season progresses, and Bates must be delighted with the strength in depth at his disposal.
3. Away fans were superb - yet again
We could easily wax lyrical about Pools’ superb support every week, but it deserves a special mention this weekend.
Just shy of 600 fans made the journey from the North East to E10 and, while cut-price match tickets may have played a part, they certainly deserve a massive round of applause.
Their noise throughout more than matched the 6,000 home fans and you could visibly see the players responding.
Pools deservedly gave them a fine ovation at the final whistle, and that’s the least they deserve after another fine turnout on the road.
4. Bates’ tactical switch has been vindicated
The brave decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation has certainly paid off for Bates.
Something had to change from last season, where Pools’ defence was leaky to say the least, and the tactical switch seems to have cured these defensive woes.
Credit to Bates and his staff for taking the leap, and to the players for adapting to an unfamiliar shape.
5. Leyton Orient resurgence could be foreshadowing Pools’ own renaissance
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Pools and Leyton Orient were actually relegated from the Football League together.
And Orient’s own resurgence towards the EFL could well foreshadow a similar push for Hartlepool.
The Londoners were the subject of a takeover in April 2017 - a year before Pools - and have since seen their fortunes on and off the pitch transform.
With Pools a year behind, so to speak, let’s hope they enjoy similar success soon.