Hartlepool Utd v Mansfield Town: Hignett wants show of class from on-song Nathan Thomas

Nathan Thomas
Nathan Thomas
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Craig Hignett has demanded a show of class and not crass from Nathan Thomas.

The 21-year-old, the hero of last week’s win at Yeovil, tomorrow comes up against Mansfield Town, the club he left to join Hartlepool United in the first stages of the January transfer window.

Thomas has spoken in complimentary tones about the Stags yesterday, especially boss Adam Murray.

But when the clubs met back in April, the former Sunderland winger angered fans in the packed away end with an exuberant celebration at the Rink End after Billy Paynter had put Pools in front from the spot.

It sent some Stags supporters into a rage and prompted a member of the local constabulary to have a quiet word with Hignett at half-time to make sure there was no repeat.

“Nathan’s reaction (to Billy’s penalty) was a bit stupid, but maybe that’s out of the system now,” said Hignett.

“He’s got a career going well here, so that sort of thing he doesn’t need to do.

“I want him to be professional, do things properly – he’s not a pub player, he doesn’t have to react like that.

“Show a little bit of class that will be the message we’ll be giving him.”

Thomas is the name on the lips of fans this week after his brilliance at Huish Park last Saturday, not once, but twice.

First he got on the end of a Trevor Carson punt to finish expertly to bring Pools level, but his winner, in the second minute of stoppage time, was something special.

And Hignett says it’s important the leading scorer follows that display up rather than think he’s cracked it.

“I hope he doesn’t believe the game is easy after what he did last week,” said the Pools boss.

“The minute he does that is when we get a bad performance from him.

“It’s a fine line between telling him how good he is and telling him ‘just because you did it last week doesn’t mean you will do it this week’.

“My message to Nathan will be ‘forget about last week now, it’s this Saturday that counts’.

“I want him to do well, I want him to push on, I want people talking about him.

“The better he does, the better it will be for the club.”

Hignett was in awe of the Thomas winner at Huish Park, his shot curling into the top corner of keeper Artur Krysiak’s net.

But the manager says he and assistant boss, Curtis Fleming, have been working on his contribution in the other half of the field.#

“He has that ability in his locker, where he can turn a game in five to 10 minutes,” said Hignett.

“At the same token he can lose a game if he switches off and doesn’t track his runners.

“He has an important job to do defensively and he knows that.

“That’s something we have been drilling into him over the last couple of weeks.

“What he has going forward he’ll always have, the bits he needs to add are the defensive things.

“If he does that he can play Premier League, no doubt it.”