Hartlepool United analysis: Attacking trio offer insight into National League promotion-pushing Pools Craig Hignett is keen to deliver
Gavan Holohan, Luke James and Luke Molyneux.
That trio are offering an insight into the Hartlepool United Craig Hignett sees challenging the top order of the National League - should he get his way this summer.
Two got on the scoresheet - James and Molyneux - against Halifax Town, while the other - Holohan - ran them close for man-of-the-match in only his second game since October.
It was a near flawless show from three of Hartlepool United’s front four - who are looking more and more of a threat as the season goes on.
While Nicke Kabamba’s goals have dried up a little, his hard work, hold up play and aerial threat has not. He is the focal point, the foundation upon which the triumvirate behind him can launch their relentless attacks.
James has scored just four goals this season. It is a tally which he is bitterly disappointed with.
His performances, though, have been top drawer. And as Hignett mentioned earlier this season, if he’d scored goals, to add to his efforts, he wouldn’t be at Hartlepool, he’d be a starter at the top end of the Football League.
For a player who does not score goals, his equaliser would not have looked out of place coming off the boot of Sergio Aguero.
A deft flick, after a clever run to meet a low cross to the front post was outstanding. It was one for the purist, a one for the strikers. You’ll see few better finishes in non-league football, ever.
As for the other goalscorer Molyneux, he was a constant thorn in the side of the Shaymen. Even during periods when Pools were on the back foot in the first and second periods, he was the man to pick the ball up, drive and go from one end of the park to the other, relieving pressure.
And his left peg is up there with the best you’ll find at this level.
James will be a Pools player next season, who knows what will happen with Molyneux? But Holohan is slowly (or quickly, given he’s only started two games) establishing himself in the ‘guaranteed to be here’ camp.
His ability to time runs from midfield to perfection is a trait few midfielders in the fifth tier can compete with.
Building a team around these three is a must.
This was a day which many a Poolie dreaded with the ‘ex-player curse’ predicted to strike.
It did strike, and it was early, as Devante Rodney bagged an opener. But this Pools are made of sterner stuff than sides of sides of earlier this campaign. They did not crumble and surrender to that tired, old narrative.
Instead they bit back to overshadow Rodney, and steal back the headlines, with Holohan and goalscorers James and Molyneux the real stars of the show.
While an honorary mention must go to David Edgar, who again underlined his Football League class with a near pass and touch perfect show at the back, it was three of the front four who stood out most.
And while this was no vintage performance from Pools - they’ve played much better and gone home empty-handed - this game offered a glimpse at what a future under Hignett, with a full summer to prepare, and all of his own players, might look like.
Promotion, or even the play-offs is no given at National League level, but from what we’ve seen from Pools since Hignett took the reins, Poolies have every right to be just a little bit excited about the season ahead.
Whatever the outcome, you know it’s going to be exciting.