We’ve lost an edge, admits Hartlepool winger

Craig Hignett and Curtis Fleming
Craig Hignett and Curtis Fleming

Hartlepool United’s players are feeling the effects of securing safety earlier than anticipated, Nathan Thomas says.

The energetic if not mercurial winger says that fans should not read too much into the fact that Pools have lost three games on the bounce as they head towards the climax of the season.

I wouldn’t say we have gone off the boil but we haven’t got that little extra yard that we had four weeks ago.

Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at home to Portsmouth meant that Pools closed out their home campaign on the losing side, and Thomas says that his teammates are lacking the extra percentage they had in March.

“The past three or four months has definitely taken its toll,” the 21-year-old candidly said.

“I wouldn’t say we have gone off the boil but we haven’t got that little extra yard that we had four weeks ago when we went on that unbeaten run.

“To get us safe as early as we did was a monumental achievement but it took it out of us all.

“We’re just unlucky that the teams we’ve been coming up against lately are top of the league.”

Thomas, so often inflicting damage on his direct opponent, didn’t have as big an impact on the Portsmouth game as he would have liked and as the team have come to expect from him.

However, he did tee up Rhys Oates and Luke James for chances each, but felt it was a match were Pools were just destined not to score.

“It was one of them games where it didn’t really happen,” he bemoaned.

“Portsmouth had a few chances but we had just as good chances without finishing them.

“It gets frustrating but I know sometimes it will drop to someone.

“One week you put six crosses in and no one gets on the end of it. The next week you put six crosses in and six goals go in.’

Thomas, who returns to his former club Plymouth for Saturday’s final game of the season, was also unlucky not to have been awarded a first-half penalty.

Even the referee hinted that he could have awarded a spot-kick. “The referee said in the first half that if I had went down he would have given it,” he said.

“I’d passed him with my head down but then when I looked up there was no one there to find, there was just a lot of bodies, so maybe I should have gone down.

“I was thinking once I’d past him this could be a goal.”

In the second-half, however, he was fortunate not to be booked when diving for a penalty. But he protested: “To be fair, he has dangled his leg so I thought he might have nicked me but he pulled away at the last minute.

“Sometimes you have to gamble on them bringing you down. You have to anticipate a bit of contact.”