Plymouth Argyle v Hartlepool United: Expect the unexpected from Pools and Craig Hignett

Forget Star Wars, prepare for Tales of the Unexpected.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 8:00 am
Craig Hignett at this week's Player of the Year awards

Craig Hignett plans to experiment in Hartlepool United’s season-ending trip to Plymouth Argyle – but that does not mean he is conceding defeat to the promotion-chasers (kick-off 3pm).

Hignett does not plan any personnel changes, though Rob Jones is likely to start in place of Matthew Bates, who has an ankle problem.

But the manager says there will be a change of tactics.

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“We are going to try something a bit different, I’m really excited,” he said.

“But it could go pear-shaped! I think I needed more than a week to work on this.

“We’ll have a look it and if it works then brilliant, if it doesn’t then we can change it and go back to the way we were playing.

“There is nothing wrong with how we play, I just want to see a different style and different way of doing things.”

It will be intriguing to witness what Hignett and right-hand-man Curtis Fleming plan to do at Home Park, where Pools fans will be decked out as Stormtroopers.

There have been glimpses in matches of 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 but Pools have not really deviated from the 4-3-3/4-5-1 which has been favoured by the new regime.

“We are going there to win,” said Hignett, who was giving away no clues as to the new approach.

“I want to give the fans something to get excited about.

“I want them to have something positive to talk about when they are coming home, because it’s a long, long way.

“It’s about hard work and doing what you practice and hopefully it comes off, I have intelligent footballers.”

“I see the quality in training and if I can get that on a regular basis on the pitch we will be a match for anyone.

Pools pressed high up the field in the recent 2-0 defeat at promotion favourites Oxford, where they had the lion’s share of possession, but carved out few openings.

Last Saturday, Pools were content to let Portsmouth have the ball and the home side had more chances!

“We pressed high at both Carlisle and Oxford and had lots of the ball,” said Hignett. “But at the same token we did not create loads of chances.

“We deliberately sat off on Saturday and let Portsmouth have the ball in their own half and when we broke out, we tended to have a lot of opportunities.

“We had more one-on-ones against them than we did in the previous two or three game, so maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere.

“I want us to recognise that there are times we may have to sit back when we are put under pressure and get our shape back and make ourselves difficult to beat.

“If we can go higher up the field and press then we will, I have clever players here but it’s for them to recognise what to do in games.

“I’d like us to play differently and for the players to know when to press and when to sit back and be able to play differently all the time.

“I don’t want us to play the same way for 90 minutes, I want to switch things about, be difficult to read.

“But that’s something that will come with time.”