'I expect nothing less than what I've seen' - Graeme Lee lays down the law to his Hartlepool United players after cup success ahead of a return to League Two action with Bristol Rovers

Graeme Lee has laid down the gauntlet to his Hartlepool United players not to drop their standards when returning to League Two action.

Pools return to league duty this weekend when they travel to Bristol Rovers on the back of a hugely successful week in cup competitions after progressing to the quarter finals of the Papa John’s Trophy and the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Lee’s side edged past League One Bolton Wanderers in the EFL Trophy before a remarkable turnaround against Championship outfit Blackpool at the Suit Direct Stadium last weekend.

And while Lee has revelled in the success each of those cup victories have brought, the Pools boss is keen to replicate those standards in the league.

Graeme Lee has told his players their standards cannot drop when Hartlepool United return to League Two action this weekend. (Credit: Mark Fletcher)

“It’s how the players applied themselves, especially in the second half [against Blackpool].

“We spoke at half time and we had to lift our belief and our energy. The first 25 minutes of that second half performance I think we dominated the game and went ahead and we put them on the back foot and they’re a Championship team.

“That spell in the second half is exactly what I’m hoping to see throughout the rest of the season,” explained Lee.

“My message to them after the game among all the smiles and celebrations was just to calm down.

Hartlepool United enjoyed success on two cup fronts last week. Picture by FRANK REID

“Them two performances have shown where we are and what we can do and when we go into league games we’ve got to be the same.

“We've got Bristol Rovers on Saturday and I expect nothing less than what I've seen from that second half. If we do that we’ll climb the table.”

And it is those performances Lee keeps stressing he wants to see progressing.

Since coming in Lee has taken four League Two games and accumulated five points. A last minute winner against Rochdale looked to have set Pools up for a change in form before a frustrating stalemate with Scunthorpe United.

Pools surrendered a two goal lead at Mansfield Town before another goalless draw with a side in the relegation zone when Oldham Athletic came to the Suit Direct Stadium on New Year’s Day.

But despite those results, Lee believes there has been signs of Pools improving as they look to end a run of just one win in nine games in League Two when they head to the Memorial Stadium this weekend.

“These cup games are fantastic and they’re unbelievable for us all to enjoy. Long may it continue, but the league is the main thing,” said Lee.

“The performances are massive for me to see that we’re moving forward in the right direction. I felt as though in the Oldham game we saw glimpses of that, we created some great chances and if we took our chances early on I think we go on and win that game.

“But I’m looking at our performances and whether they’re improving and these two games this week have shown a massive improvement and where we can be, but we have to have these performances in the league.”

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