MICK Wadsworth is well aware of the distractions that a pending cup-final appearance can have on a team.
The Hartlepool boss was in charge of Carlisle United back in 1995 when their Division Three title hopes were almost dashed following a poor run of form in the build-up to the final of the Football League Trophy.
And with Pools’ next two opponents, Brentford and Carlisle, set to lock horns in the final of the same competition, now under the Johnstone’s Paint guise, at Wembley next month, Wadsworth is hoping to take advantage of any potential shift in focus.
Wadsworth’s Cumbrians did manage to resurrect their championship tilt, although they were beaten in the cup final by Birmingham City.
And, ahead of tomorrow’s League One clash with The Bees at Victoria Park, the Pools chief reflected on that period.
“I know how cup-final appearances can distract teams, but if you look at Carlisle and Brentford then they’ve been doing okay recently,” he said. “I know when I took Carlisle to the same final against Birmingham it had an effect on us.
“We’d lost two games all season and on the Saturday before the final we played Bury and on the Monday, because it was Easter, we played Hartlepool.
“We needed one point to secure promotion or a win in either game to secure the title.
“We lost 2-1 at Bury, but we had a young team out and Rory Delap and Paul Murray both played. I thought that’s fair enough because it was a young team and Bury were decent, but then we had Hartlepool at home on the Monday who were near the bottom of the league.
“We thought it was home banker but we lost 1-0 (Keith Houchen the scorer).
“We gave a great account of ourselves in the final in front of 70,000 but lost to Barry Fry’s Birmingham. We did, though, go to Colchester a week later and won the championship.
“So I’m well aware of what can happen when you’re in a final but it’s more to do with them than it is us.”
Wadsworth will again be without Neil Austin (calf), while Fabian Yantorno (ankle) is also a doubt after picking up a knock during the reserve-team win at Middlesbrough on Wednesday.