Hartlepool United chief upbeat despite loss

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JOHN Hughes refuses to bemoan Hartlepool United’s misfortune, insisting he was pleased with his side’s performance during Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Stevenage.

Pools are now without a win in four under the new boss and have lost three under his care at Victoria Park, leaving them 11 points from safety in League One.

Saturday’s performance, however, was arguably their best of recent weeks and the visitors’ opening goal arrived against the run of play when Marcus Haber poked home in the 19th minute.

Lucas Akins netted from the penalty spot after half-time, Jordan Richards having been harshly penalised for handball.

But, despite seeing Pools’ winless run extended to 20, Hughes was upbeat when he spoke today.

“I refuse to talk about luck and decisions going against us,” he said.

“I applaud effort and commitment.

“I’ve seen that all week in training and their effort in how they have gone about it in tough conditions has been first class.

“We’ve had two good weeks in training without a game and looked free.

“As a coach, you have to be switched on – are performances better? Are they passing the ball better?

“A lot of my training is short, sharp switches in play.

“Things were evident on Saturday and I was pleased.”

He went on: “Young Jordan gives away a penalty, but so what. Was it a push in the back?

“It takes nothing away from his performance.

“He was one of many good performances – I thought Jack Baldwin and Charlie Wyke were a different class, Ritchie Humphreys was man-of-the-match and Evan Horwood had his best game for me.

“There was a lot of stuff coming off for us and I’m delighted what that.

“It will get better as we go forward and it has to get better.”

Pools twice struck the woodwork late on through Luke James and Steve Howard and went close on several occasions early in the game, Stevenage keeper Steve Arnold thwarting both Richards and Charlie Wyke.

Hughes reflected: “There were two disappointments – the result and the goals we conceded.

“It’s also a shame that we didn’t play the same football second half as we did in the first. But I wanted the supporters to see us having a go and we did that in the first half.

“We will build on that performance. There will be comings and goings and we will be spinning plates, but I want to bring success here.”

Hartlepool: Flinders, Collins, Horwood, Baldwin, Richards, Humphreys, Franks (Walton 69), Monkhouse (James 69), Sweeney, Wyke (Poole 81), Howard. Subs: McHugh, Johnson, Murray, Noble

Stevenage: Arnold, Gray (Rogers 82), Roberts, Comminges, Ngala, Tansey, Grant, Dunne, Akins, Freeman (Hills 58), Haber (Agyemang 71). Subs: Day, Ball, Risser, Shroot.

Ref: Andrew Madley (W Yorks). Att: 3,265.