Chester FC must take advantage of Hartlepool United's struggles

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

JON McCARTHY wants his Chester side to take ‘full advantage’ of misfiring Hartlepool United tonight.

Recently relegated Hartlepool are still searching for their first National League win having picked up just one point from three matches, Craig Harrison’s men beaten 2-1 at Maidenhead on Saturday.

The Blues have made a solid if unspectacular start to the campaign with home draws against AFC Fylde and Halifax Town, but boss McCarthy believes Chester can frustrate the Victoria Park crowd tonight and emerge with three points.

“We’ve played two teams who are used to winning every single week,” said McCarthy, pictured, who could have Nyal Bell available with the striker set to wear a protective gum shield having sustained a facial injury against Fylde. “You get them early on in the campaign and now we get Hartlepool who are used to getting beat and they are under some real pressure.

“We go to them and try to create the atmosphere that we had (against Halifax), that expectancy to go and produce. We can go and take advantage of that and I quite fancy that position.

“We’re not going to sit back, we’ll be disciplined and compact. The lines I talk about, I tell our back four not to get too deep as they can overcompensate. I won’t send my full-backs bombing on, but we can’t sit deep as it creates a big gap between the defence and midfield.

“It’ll be difficult but that’s the nature of it. Can we make a few more passes? Because we went too long on occasion in the first-half against Halifax.”

When asked if former TNS boss Harrison – who like McCarthy hails from the north east – had been in touch since landing his new job at Hartlepool, McCarthy replied: “I’ve not heard from Craig, he just stole one of my players without ringing me! Maybe that’s why he’s not called me, I’m only joking.

“He brought his TNS team here for a friendly last year, we had a good chat, we’re from similar areas of the country and I’m very aware with how he likes to play football.

“It’ll be interesting to see if he’s still trying to play that TNS way in the National League, I’d be surprised if he’s trying to do anything different and he should have a better quality of player there.

“But there’s a hangover there, he’s got a team he needs to turn around and they are used to losing games.

“They’re a big fish and I have to concentrate on getting us right and they’ll have to worry about us.”

With all four of his strikers set to make the 165-mile journey to the north-east tonight, McCarthy has a wealth of options in attack, and also reserved praise for full-backs Andy Halls and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner after they impressed in the 0-0 draw with Billy Heath’s Shaymen.

“All the strikers are pretty good, Harry White took a cut and was frustrated and I was conscious that he might have got himself sent off because clearly the referee has missed something there,” he added.

“Harry will be fit, Ross has had 90 minutes. With Nyal we’re looking to get a gum shield fitted which he can try and train with, and Akintunde has had as many minutes as Harry, that’s why we wanted four strikers. There will be rotation and we’ll use them all, there’s goals in all of them.

“At some point it will click. We don’t concede many and we’ve got four strikers who average one goal every three games, so it adds up so some success for us this season.

“I think you saw the difference with why I brought the two full-backs in. They’ve been outstanding one-on-one, Halifax’s biggest threats were wide in Denton and Oliver, and we kept them quiet.

“My full-backs have shown little bits of spark but in the main have been very solid.”

Harrison, meanwhile, has challenged his under-performing Hartlepool players to hit top form.

Former TNS and Airbus boss Harrison left the Welsh Premier League for his first managerial job in the English League – and it hasn’t started well.

“It’s about our standards and about what we do out there,” Harrison told the Hartlepool Mail.

“Tuesday at home is a chance to put it right. We want to win, get that first win on the board.

“It’s another game to look for with a clear head and we go again.

“In each game we have had to change the formation and that’s a frustration. We have gone behind in the first 30 minutes of each game and it doesn’t give you a base to work from whatever it may be.

“We are giving ourselves a hell of a lot of work to do.”

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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