MICHAEL WOODS has shown he has the right mentality by helping to turn Hartlepool United around after a difficult start, claims his delighted manager Craig Harrison.

Woods popped up deep into stoppage-time at Victoria Park on Tuesday to nod in the later winner that sealed three points against Barrow.

The 27-year-old had been the most threatening player during the 90 minutes and deserved to be the match-winner, justifying his place in the Hartlepool team.

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Harrison is really pleased with the midfielder, having seen him recover from a difficult start to the campaign in the National league by proving he has the character to cope.

“I thought it was right he wasn’t in the team at the start of the season, we reinstated him at the right time,” said Harrison. “He’s kicked on since then and he has answered me really well.

“He has said he is not going to stand for not being in the team. He had no agenda when he was not in the team, he was truthful and said the team shouldn’t be doing better, it was never about him it was always about us.

“He showed great respect in that situation has liked that. He has taken his opportunity. He has scored more goals. He has come up with a good one against Barrow as well – and it was important.”

After starting the first game of the season against Dover, he lost his place after that. He was an unused substitute in four of the five matches after that, coinciding with the depressing start outside the Football League for Hartlepool.

But he was back in the side against Guiseley on August 28 and has not been out of the side since. Hartlepool have won five of those eight matches, losing just once.

Harrison said: “The run didn’t bother me, we were trying to get better on a daily and weekly basis. When it comes to the time where we need to worry about our position we will.

“We have a plan and the players know that, we have a goal of how many points we need and what we need to get in the play-offs and what we need to get promoted.

“Yes we didn’t start as well as we would have liked, but we didn’t panic. We had 11 players changing in the summer, four staff, so for things to come together after things didn’t go so well early on is fantastic.”

Hartlepool will face Solihull Moors on Saturday confident of closing the three point gap to the play-offs. They are unlikely to have Ryan Donaldson available. He is being assessed after suffering an ankle injury that has required a protective boot.

After league duty Harrison’s men will be facing Evo-Stik North’s South Shields in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.

And the Hartlepool boss said: “It’s very exciting, it will be my first experience as a manger of the FA Cup. It’s something I am looking forward to. It couldn’t have been a better draw really for the area, it will be a tough game and one we are looking forward to. We have 15 players and staff from the area, so they know what it will mean.”