Hartlepool United will not be outplayed – or out-muscled.
That was the proud message from Craig Hignett who will look to extend the team’s unbeaten sequence to seven games this Saturday – whatever Mansfield Town try to throw at them at Victoria Park.
I was looking at Rob Jones on the bench and thinking it was his sort of gameCRAIG HIGNETT
Wimbledon threw the kitchen sink at Pools last Friday and Leyton Orient chucked ball after ball into the away box on Monday.
And neither of the promotion-chasers could break the Pools door down.
Trevor Carson made two tremendous saves at Brisbane Road in the later stages and Nicky Featherstone cleared one off the line but, by and large, Pools dealt comfortably with the threat posed by the O’s.
It looked a contest tailor-made for Rob Jones, but such was the display by Carl Magnay, Matthew Bates, Adam Jackson and Jake Carroll in front of Carson, the giant defender was not required.
Pools hung on for the 2-0 win – their fourth shut-out in a row.
“It’s hard to look at it and think we were in control,” said Hignett.
“But Orient were getting frustrated that they couldn’t play through us.
“They had to resort to long and diagional balls and that’s all part of the game.
“If they can’t play through you, teams will try to play over you
“Kevin is a really good manager with a good team and we knew it was going to be tough.
“But we dug in and, overall, I think we were quite comfortable.
“Trev has made a couple of great saves but I think we have defended really well as a team.
“We faced the same sort of stuff from Wimbledon, who hit a lot of long, diagonal balls into us.
“We dealt with it really well.
“I was looking at Rob Jones on the bench and thinking it was his sort of game, he would have snuffed them out.
“If it was a one-off game I’d probably have brought him on straight away.
“But I could not make any changes – I enjoy watching us defend as we do.”
The Pools boss has employed a new shape for the side since he took charge and it’s reaping rewards.
On paper, it’s a 4-3-3 formation but when Pools are not in possession it turns into a 4-5-1 and they are proving hard to beat.
And Hignett has praise for not just the entire backline, but the whole XI.
“Both Jacko and Batesy were brilliant again,” he said. “But not just those two – Nicky Featherstone was absolutely outstanding.
“Jake Carroll continued his good form and Carl Magnay is playing out of their skin and Trevor Carson is the best keeper in the division without a shadow of a doubt.
“But I can go through the whole team and say how well everyone is doing.”