Story of the day: Shildon 0-6 Hartlepool United

‘There’s a method to how we’re doing it and the teams that we pick,’ were the words from Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett ahead of Saturday’s second pre-season friendly at Shildon.

By Dominic.Scurr1
Saturday, 06 July, 2019, 17:03
Aaron Cunningham starred for Hartlepool against Shildon

Hignett is looking to experiment and mix things up in pre-season as he looks to find the best systems to accommodate his large squad.

The first half in sunny Shildon saw United led out by summer signing Michael Raynes and deployed in a 4-4-2 diamond not dissimilar from that which ended the game at Billingham.

New signing Gus Mafuta was positioned in front of the back four with Liam Noble and trialist Jason Kennedy dictating things on either side – Josh Hawkes spearheaded the midfield.

Noble, fresh from his fine volley at Billingham, netted an arguably better goal just four minutes into the second friendly match.

The midfielder played the ball out wide to Toure who charged down the left before pulling the ball back for Noble to curl into the top right corner from 20-yards via the post.

Kennedy, who was on the left side of the diamond, made it 2-0 as he rose highest to head in Hawkes’ corner inside the opening 25-minutes.

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A dominant first-half display was rounded off by Aaron Cunningham’s close range strike from Noble’s corner to make it 3-0.

Hignett made no less than eight changes at the break and adopted a change in system which saw Peter Kioso and Kenton Richardson either side of Cunningham as part of a 3-5-2 switch.

Whether it be due to personnel or formation, the 3-5-2 wasn’t quite as effective as the first-half diamond as Shildon started to get in the game more.

But Pools still continued to link up well which was perfectly demonstrated with their fourth goal as a neat interchange between Luke James and Liam Smith ended with the trialist poking the ball into the bottom left corner.

Shortly after Luke Molyneux executed a trademark cut inside from the right to arrow a left-footed drive into the bottom corner and netted his second late on with a solo run along the byline.

The referee then blew the whistle to confirm another convincing pre-season win for Hartlepool – next up is Newton Aycliffe.