HARTLEPOOL UNITED’S decline in fortunes on the pitch has followed their demise off it.

Since players became aware of the club’s financial difficulties, results have fallen off.

Pools were due to go to go to Barrow today on the back of one win in 15, a run which includes a 1-0 defeat at Workington in the first round of the FA Trophy, but the game has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch following a 9.30am pitch inspection.

Loading article content

And while the financial mess drags the club down, there’s no respite on it.

Boss Craig Harrison feels the turning point for his players came at the start of December. Pools were leading against Macclesfield, until they conceded two late goals to lose.

Since then, confidence has drained away.

“Keeping morale up is important. In professional sport it’s in the head and it’s looked like that of late,’’ he said. “Since Macclesfield to be honest, done with a late sucker punch and losing after looking like beating the team at the top.

“Since them we’ve tried to build confidence and we have been in games since when we have been in front and leading, but didn’t win the game.

“It’s concentration, mentality, and going in front means we are doing something right. Then we go and press the explode button, but it’s a mental thing. All these players are good enough to be at this level and higher, but when you get it in your head that you aren’t it’s a real tough demon to control.

“The downturn has gone hand in hand with what’s gone on off the field. I think we hit a brick wall physiologically against Macclesfield. Since then there’s been times when we have had blocks of games and known what we need to do and fell short.’’

He added: “Macclesfield sucked the life out of a lot of people, we have shown flashes of how good we can be. Wrexham we didn’t, we were poor.

“Last time out at Eastleigh we did well in chunks and scored three times away from home.

“We wasted all the good work in conceding after going in front. At Chester we were in front and conceded, at Gateshead were were in front, then against them at home we were up twice and conceded. At Dagenham we got back to level and shot ourselves in the foot.

“It’s a mental thing, you can show people how to play, go through it in different ways to show people, whatever you may do, but it’s hard to get the mentality out of your head and we battle against it day by day.’’

Harrison was taking a depleted squad across the A66 today.

Nicky Deverdics has moved to Wrexham, and with injuries taking hold he is down to his last 12 available players.

“We lost Nicky and now Franksy has joined him at Wrexham too. We have lost a lot of bodies – Keith Watson, James Thorne, Tomi Adeloye, Connor Simpson – there’s six alone before injuries come into play,’’ said Harrison.

“It’s hard and it’s left us short of numbers. We will have young lads involved in training and we had to play a very young reserve team this week.

“Josh Hawkes and Liam Travers will be on the bench on Saturday so it’s an opportunity for them. With injuries – Liam Donnelly, Luke George, Kenton Richardson, Ryan Donaldson are out, Carl Magnay is suspended.

“Luke George trained this week and Michael Ledger too and both could be involved on Saturday. Ledge has had a catalogue of back, hamstring injuries and it’s been tough for him.

“I will get on with it and make the best of what we have got, that’s my message.’’

Pools are 18th in the table.

If Pools do go into administration, then relegation looks assured.

Harrison said: “Barrow aren’t too far behind us, they will look at us. We have had a good week in training, I’m glad the window has passed. The players came back in with clear heads and worked hard.

“It’s important with 15 games left to get as many points as quickly as we can. One win, any shape of form, will bring belief and confidence back.

“The stuff will go on off the pitch, I can’t find a new owners, the players can’t. What I can do, what the staff can do is try and make it a more attractive proposition for someone.’’