Ex-Sunderland winger Nathan Thomas should be skinning defenders for Hartlepool United
Stop messing about cutting inside and get them skinned.
That was the message from Michael Woods to Nathan Thomas as Hartlepool United look to carry on from where they left off at Morecambe when they visit Notts County tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).
Woods benefitted from the speed and skill of Thomas when he put away a fourth-minute chance after the forward’s shot was brilliantly saved by Barry Roche.
After his early assist, Thomas then went on to score two of his own, the first a left-footer after leaving his marker for dead and then one with his little-used right boot after again leading the home defence clutching at thin air.
The 21-year-old is League Two’s form man and Woods wants to see him be even more direct.
“Nathan is frustrating at times but he’s unplayable at times,” said Woods.
“Sometimes when you are watching you think ‘what are you doing coming inside? That’s what the full-back wants you to do’.
“I want to see him getting his head down, run down the line and skin his marker like I know he can.
“He’s so fast and when he performs like that, he’s unplayable.
“Trust me, you want him on your team in training, we see it day-in day-out at Maiden Castle, he’s lightning fast.
“He’s got full-backs on toast – he could have had a couple more on Saturday if I’m being ultra-critical.
“But he’s great to have in your side, not only can he create and score, he’s good at relieving pressure, he can get you 40 yards up the field in no time.”
But the form of the 21-year-old January transfer-window signing from Mansfield is just the tip of the blue iceberg.
Pools have form men throughout the squad as the team have gone from strength to strength under boss Craig Hignett.
Only Bristol Rovers are in better form than Pools and Woods is excited by how Hignett has transformed their fortunes.
“As the weeks have gone by, we’ve bought into what he wants – it wasn’t going to happen overnight,” said Woods. “But it has happened pretty quickly, he wants us to play, he wants us to pass it, I think we have the players to suit that way.
“We have players who can play, the lads are enjoying it, there’s a great buzz about the place.
“The games are coming thick and fast which is what you want when you are on a great run.
“It’s brilliant to be able to go Saturday-Tuesday, that can only be a good thing when confidence is so high.
“You can sense it, there’s a buzz about the place.”
That buzz will increase by another few decibels if Pools can clinch their seventh away win of the season this evening.
Woods started in the 3-2 home defeat by County – a result which still rankles.
“The second half especially, there was only one team in it,” said the. 26-year-old. “Take out the start they had and the late goal, we should have won.
“It will be nice to go there and get the result.
“I think there is going to be a good following again and hopefully we can play like we did on Saturday.”