'We're finding it really difficult' – the key Hartlepool United stat that has concerned interim manager Antony Sweeney

Hartlepool United’s lack of threat from set-pieces has been highlighted by interim manager Antony Sweeney.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Last season, Pools proved to be reasonably potent from corner kicks with David Ferguson and Nicky Featherstone whipping quality balls into the box on a regular basis.

While Ferguson has scored directly from a free-kick so far this term, the club are yet to score following any corner-kick routine in 2021-22.

Wyscout stats show Pools have had 95 corners so far this season – the fewest of any League Two side – and have failed to convert a single one. The stats also show that less than three in 10 of Hartlepool’s corners result in an effort on goal.

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A general view inside the stadium as David Ferguson of Hartlepool United takes a corner-kick during the Emirates FA Cup First Round Replay match between Wycombe Wanderers and Hartlepool United at Adams Park on November 16, 2021 in High Wycombe, England. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

“We've had [around] 100 corners this season and we're one of three teams [in League Two] who hasn't scored directly from a corner,” Sweeney said.

"That can't happen because corners and set-plays can be the difference between winning or losing away from home or getting a point and we don't maximise our set-plays anywhere near enough.

"That's not through lack of delivery because that is usually bang on, it's the desire, the determination and the aggression to get the first contact and stick the ball in the net.

"We haven't quite got that at the moment so it's obvious to use where we need to improve but they're not easy fixes.”

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Ryan Johnson, Luke Armstrong and Rhys Oates are the last three players to score from a corner for Pools in a competitive match – none of whom are still at the club.

“Whether that's new players coming in, a new manager coming in who can squeeze more out of the players we have, I have no idea but as a football club something needs to happen because you can't go on the way we're going on in this run and we've got tough games coming up,” Sweeney added.

"There are no easy games in League Two and we're finding it really difficult at this moment in time.”

After making a solid start to life back in League Two, Pools have lost their last four league matches and have slipped to 15th in the table.

They travel to face fifth placed Port Vale at Vale Park this Saturday (3pm kick-off).

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