RONNIE Moore joked that it would take a magician to explain Hartlepool United’s poor second-half displays – but knows he has to conjure up a winning formula.
The 3-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town last weekend was the latest in a long line of examples of Pools starting a match well before coming out a different team after the break and collapsing.
The FA Cup humiliation against Blyth Spartans – screened live to the nation – was the most high profile and Moore has experienced similar frustration since taking charge at Victoria Park.
Moore was left baffled by his side’s second-half display against the Shrews, who grabbed all three goals after the interval, but is adamant that his team can compete with anyone in League Two – if they can string together a performance lasting at least 70 minutes.
When asked what he put the poor second-half displays down to this season, Moore said: “If I knew the answer to that I’d be a magician!
“First-half against Shrewsbury we were on the front foot and took the game to them.
“But the second half was a whole different story and it was only five minutes in when they scored the first and the lad was so lucky.
“It was a long ball and it has hit the back of his leg, rolled down and he has gone onto score.
“We have too many young kids that are still learning at this moment in time.
“But if we can produce that 45 minutes from the first half for longer then we will be a hard side to beat.
“I can see improvements in us – no doubt about that – but you cannot legislate for individual mistakes.
“It is down to what their thinking is inside the box and a lot of times they are making the wrong decision.”
Moore was trying to remain as bullish and as positive as possible ahead of the trip to Prenton Park this Saturday, where his Pools side take on third-bottom Tranmere Rovers.
He is demanding his side start producing for longer spells in matches if they are to stand any chance of fighting the dreaded drop this campaign.
Pools are rooted to the foot of Sky Bet League Two, nine points from third-bottom Rovers and Saturday’s match is a real “12-pointer”.
“I certainly think we can take a lot from the first half against Shrewsbury,” Moore said.
“For 70 minutes the week before against Cheltenham Town we were OK and for 45 at Shrewsbury we were decent.
“But how many times have I said that we can’t play 90 minutes?
“We just can’t seem to put that 70 minutes in which will give you a win.
“That’s the story of this league.”
Meanwhile, Australian Under-23 international Travis Cooper is understood to be training with Hartlepool United.
The 21-year-old striker had been playing in Holland but is currently a free agent.
Moore has said recently he is more than happy to take a closer look at trialists in training as he looks to bolster his squad – with a new striker a priority.