THE energy, hunger and determination of Hartlepool United’s young players has been hailed by the club’s caretaker manager.
Saturday’s 2-1 win over Exeter City was only Pools’ third of the Sky Bet League Two campaign so far but it was well deserved.
Going into the match, interim boss Sam Collins said he wasn’t scared to go with youth again and handed starts to 19-year-old left-back Dan Jones and midfielder Lewis Hawkins, 21.
Collins was delighted with his side’s performance but felt they could have scored more than two.
“It’s strange, but we could have scored more than two,” insisted Collins.
“We hit the bar, had shots and ripped them open in the second-half time and time again.
“The first goal was down to energy and that was something I had in my head when thinking about a team for Tuesday and Saturday.
“We need young lads, energy and players who want to play for this football club.
“If they want to play for my team, for however long, then that’s what they have to do.
“Michael Duckworth is non-stop, up and down the pitch all day long – a great kid with a brilliant attitude and since he came back into the team after injury he’s been excellent.
“Michael Woods’ goal, we see things all the time in training and see what he can do – and it’s brilliant things.
“He is desperate to make the most of his second chance.”
Caretaker Collins has given his youthful side the chance to play with freedom since taking over.
Lining up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with on-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke leading the line, Pools looked dangerous going forward.
With support from Ryan Brobbel on the left and Hawkins on the right, Pools have this week looked far more fluid and attacking than at any other point this season.
Collins added: “It’s about doing it in the right areas of the pitch.
“The shape we had means the likes of Michael [Woods], Michael Duckworth, Lewis Hawkins and Ryan Brobbel can play with freedom and get about the pitch.
“Dan Jones was doing it on the opposite side, getting up and down the flank with energy down the sides.
“I want my lads to play with energy and get in the box - that’s how you score goals.
“Some of the interplay between the attacking players was very good.”
Pools opened the scoring in the 49th minute through Woods’ well-executed volley before a rapid counter-attack resulted in Charlie Wyke curling home his fourth of the season.
Collins, a defender by trade, thought the second was the better goal because it reflected the work the squad had been doing all week in training.
“We scored two good goals but I’m more concentrating on things going on at the other end defensively,” admitted Collins.
“In terms of the goals, the best for me was probably the second.
“The way we worked the ball to Charlie was something we worked on all week and it worked a treat.”