Pompey v Hartlepool: The opposition view

Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett
Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett
Theo Widdrington. Picture: Sarah Standing

Pompey talent makes Hawks switch

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Last weekend was an absolute disaster, as you can imagine if you lose 5-0 at home.

There have been flashes this season of Hartlepool being a really good side, especially against teams at the top end of League Two.

However, Craig Hignett’s team cannot keep it tight at the back, with nine conceded in the past two matches.

The return of the experienced Matthew Bates helped initially, with a couple of clean sheets, but it has recently gone back to a defensive shambles.

The fear is there could be another big defeat against Pompey. Hignett has called for a reaction from his team – but he did the same following the 4-0 FA Cup defeat at Port Vale.

The Pools have done reasonably well on their travels, so I wouldn’t rule them out of getting something.

But, judging from the last few weeks, I wouldn’t be expecting it.

I wouldn’t say there is much pressure on the manager from within the club. They believe they have the right man, while the dressing room is with him.

In fairness, the fans have been reasonably kind given the performance at the weekend.

There were a couple of ‘Hignett out’ chants towards the end of the game, while boos could be heard following the fourth and fifth goals.

On the whole, though, they have been quite patient. Certainly, I have seen more vitriol directed towards other players and managers over the years.

Yet the ambition was to finish in the top seven – presently they are sitting in 19th.

Nathan Thomas getting injured has totally derailed their season.

A player capable of goals and creativity, he scored seven times in his opening 15 league games.

Then he was stretchered off against Barnet at the end of October and is not expected back until at least late January.

They now really lack that dynamism and to lose such a talismanic figure is a massive blow.

Thomas is virtually one of the best in the division, you cannot replace somebody like that – as Hartlepool have discovered to their cost.

In goal, Trevor Carson has been doing brilliantly well, despite the goals against column not looking great for him. Regardless, he has been fantastic.

Unfortunately, it feels like a regulation struggle and while the manager has said they are not looking over their shoulders, I think a lot of people are.

Expectations have come down a fair bit over the last few weeks.