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Midfielder enjoying his first taste of Festive football
A PERSONAL best performance of the season, a goal, a cracking atmosphere and a brief thought of a broken ankle.
It was a lively Boxing Day for Matty Dolan.
On loan at Hartlepool United from Middlesbrough, the midfielder was an influential performer in Pool’s 1-1 draw at the League Two leaders.
His penalty, slotted in after James Poole was hauled down in the area, ensured Pools came from behind yet again to make it five draws from six games.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Morecambe, Dolan admitted: “It was my first proper Christmas period in football – training on Christmas Day and playing Boxing Day, I loved it.
“Playing in front of a good crowd like this, and our fans were brilliant all day to help create a good atmosphere, makes things feel good.
“Boxing Day is a great time to play football. The crowd was brilliant, we had a cracking turn out of our supporters. Maybe you would think on Boxing Day people would be feeling a big hungover and not make the trip – it was the opposite and I’m so glad we gave them a good performance and a point and something to cheer.
“It was a frantic game. After 20 minutes, I said to one of their lads that it was a good job none of us had Christmas dinner because it was so frantic out there. It never stopped.
“We take something from this one. Friday was a recovery day, the gaffer knows how to prepare us correctly and now we look for six points in the next two games. We’ve drew four in a row. Chesterfield are a good side, they have spent some money and got some good players in – that’s why they are top of the league and on a winning streak. But we were more than a match for them.’’
Pools trailed after conceding 30 minutes in, but then grew into the game and, even with ten men after Andy Monkhouse was sent-off, went closest to winning it.
Luke James’ stunning effort was dipping under the bar before keeper Tommy Lee somehow kept it out.
“I was right behind Luke at the end, I don’t think I can repeat what I said on the pitch when he hit it,’’ admitted Dolan.
“It was an unbelievable strike, the keeper has pulled off one hell of a save. Luke is a confident player, he’s had a great game and he will take on chances like that – anyone low on confidence maybe wouldn’t try it.’’
Pools are in talks with Boro to keep both Dolan and Christian Burgess on loan. Dolan can play the next two games before his deal expires, with the centre-half clear to face Morecambe before an extension is necessary.
“I can play against Bury and then see what happens. The gaffer has been talking to Boro, if they want me back then it’s not in my hands. I just want to play football,’’ admitted Hartlepool-born Dolan.
Dolan made six starts on loan for Yeovil last season, but moving to Pools has been his first taste of playing week in, week out.
He’s improved as a midfielder since arriving and admitted: “I think that performance set the standards for myself. I think, apart from last week, I’ve been playing well and hopefully keep getting better and better.
“The lads around me have been brilliant and there’s a lot of young lads in the team out there who are improving all the time.
“I was in midfield alongside Brad (Walker) and he’s a young lad, but he’s got such a mature head on him in there he can look after himself.
“I think even when I’ve been in there with Si (Walton) he learns every game, we all do as footballers.
“I pass things onto Brad, he’s a quality player who wants to learn and pick things up so he will get better.’’
Pools drew plenty of plaudits for their display in Derbyshire, in a game that never let up from start to finish.
“Chesterfield’s gaffer complimented us and said how well we played, which is always nice to hear,’’ admitted Dolan. “There was only ever going to be one team going to get the winner – even when we were down to ten men.
“We go to Morecambe, and aim to win to close the gap on the play-offs. We have always been just short of it so far, but I’m confident we will be alright.
“The table is so tight, if we can put a run together we will be up there and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.
“If we can keep everyone fit and ready then we will do well.
“At one time I went over on my ankle and thought I’d broke it briefly, but it’s OK.’’
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