Hartlepool United coach Antony Sweeney feels fringe players didn't make the most of their Durham Challenge Cup opportunity despite 3-0 win over Tow Law Town

Hartlepool United first team coach Antony Sweeney wants to see players make the most of the opportunities presented to them after an uninspiring Durham Challenge Cup victory on Tuesday night.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6:00 am
Antony Sweeney during the FA Cup match between Hartlepool United and Brackley Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 19th October 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News) Editorial Use only. Not for resale

Pools beat Northern League Division Two side Tow Law Town 3-0 at Victoria Park without ever having to push themselves.

And with several first team players looking to get back into the starting line-up featuring in the game, Sweeney was honest in his assessment of their performance.

“If I’m honest, I probably wouldn’t say anyone did enough tonight,” he admitted.

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“This was an opportunity, that’s the key word. If you’re a player returning to match fitness, this was a game to get some minutes which was probably the most important thing.

“The first 11 look after themselves in a lot of ways in regard to match fitness and readiness. It’s the lads who haven’t had the minutes like Jason Kennedy who have spent a lot of time on the bus but haven’t had the match minutes.

“When you’re on the bus and not playing it can have a bigger impact because you’re travelling instead of playing as well.

“It was vital for the players to get minutes into the legs but also a chance to impress the manager.

“You can train Monday to Friday but if you impress in a game then it catapults you more toward the first team compared to what training would.”

Six under-19 players also featured in the game alongside the Pools’ first team players as two goals from Niko Muir and a volley from Jason Kennedy secured a straightforward win.

And while the Durham Challenge Cup may not be high on most people’s priority list, Sweeney was quick to stress the importance of the competition.

“Without running a reserve side, this competition is the best opportunity for the young players to impress and play alongside professional footballers which is something that they aspire to be,” he added.

“They’ve also been given the chance to represent the club at Victoria Park as well which is something that doesn’t come along too often either. All of those experiences are good for them, but everyone needs to be performing better than we have here.”