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It was a proper game of football, says Pools boss Hignett

PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:51 12 February 2019

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett (pic: Richard Sellers/PA Images).

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett (pic: Richard Sellers/PA Images).

PA Archive/PA Images

The Hartlepool United manager praised Leyton Orient and his mid-table Pools following last weekend’s match

Craig Hignett effused about the efforts of both Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient after Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

The National League leaders extended their unbeaten run to three games, but had to work hard for a point in the North East.

Jobi McAnuff fired the O’s ahead in the 22nd minute, yet Nicke Kabamba equalised on the stroke of half time.

Pools were then awarded a penalty in the 58th minute when Joe Widdowson fouled Luke James, but Liam Noble saw his effort saved by Dean Brill and it ended all square.

Hartlepool manager Hignett told Pools PlayerHD: “It was a proper game of football.

“There were two excellent teams, both wanting to win the game and neither took a step back really and I am really pleased with the lads for the full 90.

“It could have gone either way; we’ve had to defend properly and (Scott) Loach made a couple of saves, but by the same token I thought we looked threatening up front with Luke James and Nicke Kabamba.”

Without Josh Koroma, O’s went with Matt Harrold alongside Macauley Bonne, but they were missing Sam Ling (illness) and Jordan Maguire-Drew (calf).

Those three joined injured first-teamers Josh Coulson, Marvin Ekpiteta and James Dayton on the sidelines.

Orient still started strongly at Hartlepool and good forward play by Harrold created the opener.

He held off a few opponents and teed up captain McAnuff, who drilled home from 22-yards, via a deflection, to make it 1-0.

It seemed like the visitors would lead at the break, but they frustratingly conceded just before half time.

Both Jamie Turley and Dan Happe slide in and the ball unfortunately rolled perfectly for Kabamba to slot home.

This gave Pools the initiative and a fine run by James saw the hosts win a penalty close to the hour mark.

Brill was the hero, though, as he guessed correctly and earned O’s a point, which kept them top.

Pools boss Hignett added: “I thought it was a poor goal that we conceded, but the pleasing thing was the reaction and we should probably have won because of the penalty we got. We looked like a proper team, who gelled together as a unit.

“It was exciting and it was exhilarating, that’s everything that I want. I don’t want us to sit back, I want us to go forward and try to score goals.

“The fans want to see players thundering in to tackles, running, closing down – we did all of that, and showed a bit going forward – and we will get better.”

Orient will hope Hartlepool do continue to improve because Solihull Moors, AFC Fylde, Salford City and Wrexham all have to play the Pools between now and the end of the campaign.

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