First goal will be key to Tranmere Rovers v Hartlepool United

HOPEFUL: Michael Woods.

HOPEFUL: Michael Woods.

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MICHAEL Woods believes scoring the first goal is key to Hartlepool United winning as he looks to take the game to Tranmere Rovers.

The former Chelsea and Leeds United youth is a believer in the best form of defence being attack as Pools look to plot a way of getting out of trouble this season.

But with games rapidly flying by Ronnie Moore’s side is running out of time.

Tomorrow’s relatively short trip to Prenton Park is the 27th match of the Sky Bet League Two campaign and the club has managed to muster just four league wins so far.

Add to that a woeful scoring record with just 18 scored – the lowest in the league – then it is no surprise Pools find themselves nine points from safety.

Woods though is remaining upbeat ahead of the Tranmere test. He told SportMail: “This weekend is massive for us.

“Results didn’t go our way last weekend but they did the week before and it is about what we do.

“We need three or four wins on the spin, to get some momentum and put the pressure on those above us.

“Winning boosts confidence and then you never know.

“Last weekend against Shrewsbury was a good performance and that was against strong opposition.

“No disrespect to Tranmere but they aren’t going to be as strong as Shrewsbury were.

“We got a win against Cheltenham so we can look at that game and the positive opening 45 minutes against Shrewsbury.”

What Pools can’t afford to do is to concede the first goal.

It has been a major problem this campaign as once the first goes in numbers two and three inevitably follow, hence why the goal difference is minus 28, again comfortably the worst in the league.

The problem isn’t lost on Woods and he knows scoring first is key.

“Teams have had plenty of the ball against us but if we are tight and score first it’s massive,” he added.

“The first goal is key for us.

“It is about confidence and belief and if we score it then we are a different team.

“But away from home if we aren’t leading then at least we have to stay in the game because at Shrewsbury after the first goal, the game turned on it’s head.

“Once it went in it gave them a lift but it is a learning curve for us as we are an inexperienced side.

“If it is 0-0 after 65 minutes then we need to shut up shop, to keep it tight.”