CRAIG HARRISON insists hard work and long hours on the training ground will go a long way to curing Hartlepool United’s ailments.

Pools managed to throw away a winning position in the last five minutes of Saturday’s game with Macclesfield at Victoria Park, losing 2-1 in a game they dominated in the main.

A number of defensive lapses cost Pools dearly and the players were subject to a lengthy post mortem in the dressing room afterwards.

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Harrison and his coaching staff will this week put the hours in drilling defensive responsibilities into their charges.

The manager said: “Take away four minutes at the end and we played well – chances on the front foot, being aggressive.

“Then we haven’t done our jobs well, basic jobs, nothing special or out of the ordinary. Just what we are after and the two occasions we didn’t we are punished.

“We have played well, as good as against Halifax without taking opportunity and then we are bitten on the backside by not doing basic stuff.

“We have to keep working, we have had a lot of injuries with senior players, but we have to get on with it with what we have and improve them every day. That’s the job of me and the coaches.

“If we have to work harder and longer to make them better then we will. Whatever we have to do we will do. That’s the situation we are in.

“We are not talking finished articles, we aren’t Man City. We need to learn and learn quickly.’’

He added: “It’s how we react, how we plan. Football is a challenge physiologically too and it’s up to the staff here, the coaches and staff that we nail down things. That’s why I wanted to get it out of the way on Saturday night, watch it again, and give people time to stew over it and then you have lost two days talking about it.

“We weren’t far from our best today, individual decisions were the difference. We have to ask why. We work on finishing and attacking play. Is it a personal thing with confidence? But we see in training the same lads shooting from all angles and distances.’’

Pools have scored as many as they have conceded this season and need to be more clinical at both ends if they are to succeed this season.

They go to Dover on Saturday, who sit fifth and who won at Victoria Park at the start of the season.

“The last three games have been as good as we have played without winning. Even when we have won games in a long unbeaten run we didn’t play as well as Saturday,’’ reflected Harrison.

“We cannot be negative, we have to be positive and move forward, we need to capture the opening 85 minutes and score more goals from it, see the game out.

“We are still only five off the play-offs, we have our targets. We aim for them. Five points with half a season left, we have to stay on the front foot and need to do as much as we can to get another run – three or four wins in a row will get us there.

“Other teams haven’t took advantage of us losing. 85 minutes in we are one point off the play-offs, come 90 minutes we are five. We are still in connection and not go away from this way of playing. The last two home games have been very good – it cannot stop, we have to keep doing it going forward.’’

And Harrison feels Pools missed the calming influence of Nicky Featherston at the weekend. He is facing six to eight weeks out with a fractured fibula bone.

The central midfielder is one of many who have spent time on the injured list this season.

“When Nicky has been fit he has played, after recovering from a double hernia,’’ added the manager. “He’s been a mainstay and a big influence, we played well without him.

“But as a senior player, game management, would he have an influence? He would have, same with Keith Watson. Ideally Carl Magnay would have had another week’s training before returning, but losing Nicky we are without an experienced player and it’s proved on Saturday when we conceded poor goals at the end.’’