Hartlepool United return to winning ways after heart-to-heart

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MICK Wadsworth believes that last week’s clear-the-air talks between his players were the inspiration behind Saturday’s 1-0 win over Colchester United.

The squad, led by senior members Sam Collins, Ritchie Humphreys and Paul Murray, gathered at Maiden Castle to sift through the wreckage of last Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat at Oldham and try to address the problems behind a six-game winless streak.

The players did not hold back in airing their views and emerged from the meeting with a unified determination to right the wrongs of recent weeks.

The response was a dogged team display which landed its reward just three minutes from time when Antony Sweeney popped up to volley the winning goal.

And Wadsworth, whose side are up to 11th in League One, said: “The players must take a huge amount of credit for what’s happened over the past few days.

“Apart from the work we’ve done with them they’ve talked a lot more between themselves and things have been said.

“They’ve shown a real gritty desire to get back into winning ways and that’s great – good on them.

“We’ve had a tough period and you get doubt because it’s been a difficult month.

“But we’ve always said that this group of players has huge resolve and I have to give them enormous credit.

“I think it was a deserved victory – we have to work very hard for everything we get and this game was a good example of that.

“It was a classic case of resilience and never giving in – just like the club motto “never say die.”

Wadsworth himself spent the latter part of the week going over every fine detail of Pools’ recent slide in a bid to unearth a solution.

The outcome was a change of system which saw the customary 4-5-1 formation shelved in favour of a 4-4-2, with Adam Boyd and James Brown paired in attack.

And the boss explained: “The change in system simplified the game and matched us up against them.

“More than half a season has gone, teams know what we’ve been doing and they know we’ve played 4-3-3 so we just tried to steal a bit of an advantage.

“John Ward (Colchester manager) would have been surprised because even with the players we put out it looked like a 4-3-3.

“I thought it worked well and Sweeney has that ability to come in from the wide areas and get in goalscoring positions.”

The team selection certainly raised a few eyebrows in and around Victoria Park prior to kick off with Boyd handed just his fifth league start of the campaign.

And Wadsworth was pleased with his front duo, adding: “Boydy did okay but he might need another half a game in the reserves on Wednesday.

“Brownie did okay as well but they both got tired because they put a shift in and they were playing against big guys in a physical game.

“But at times they played some very nice combination stuff, especially in the first half and I was pleased with how they worked together.”

Hartlepool: Flinders, Collins, Horwood, Haslam, Hartley, Humphreys (McSweeney 90), Liddle, Sweeney, Murray, Boyd (Larkin 64), Brown, (Monkhouse 64). Subs: Rafferty, McSweeney, Gamble, Monkhouse, Yantorno, Donaldson, Larkin.

Colchester: Cousins, Beevers, N Clarke, Heath, Izzet, Bond, Perkins (Wordsworth 60), Coker, James (Vincent 79), Gillespie, Mooney (Odejayi 70). Subs: Pentney, Baldwin, White, Wordsworth, Vincent, Odejayi, I Henderson

Ref: Mr Kettle Att: 2,646