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Pools are finding Howard's Way
HARTLEPOOL United have spent the week trying to link up their play with Steve Howard.
Their target man played the full game against Fleetwood last weekend, following an 80 minute run-out against York the previous week.
And now, with his fitness levels improving all the time, in Howard Pools have a focal point for their attacks.
In four League Two games this season, they have yet to score and go to Torquay on Saturday seeking their first win of the campaign.
Howard almost got off the mark last weekend with two headers and boss Colin Cooper admitted: “Steve got through 90 minutes and, since we came back for the start of pre-season, we have basically been building him up to get through the length of a game and he was saying during the second-half ‘I’m on this, I’ve got it’ and he wanted someone to play off him.
“It didn’t quite go for us and we have a look at why.
“If you have someone of his physical presence and playing at the levels he has – Premier League and downwards, then you have technical ability and that’s what you need to play at those levels.
“Even at 37 he still shows he has the technical ability to bring it down and play off him, as well as the physical ability to win flick-ons. We say to those in and around him to read his flicks and gamble.’’
Howard’s last two games have been much improved on last season’s performances and Cooper added: “His headers were both on target. One cleared, the other just in the goalkeeper’s reach. Looking from my angle, another yard from the goalkeeper’s left hand he wouldn’t reach it, but it’s just close enough to make a save.
“Two good headers from crosses pulling off the defender’s shoulders – textbook Stevie, but we need textbook Stevie to score and beat the keepers.’’ And Simon Walton, another who flattered to deceive too often last campaign, has also been impressive in his last couple of outings.
He helped form a lively three-man midfield last weekend and agreed with Cooper’s notion that he needs to be happy and settled to get the best out of him.
“When I came in after last season I tried to put what happened out of my mind,’’ he admitted.
“I have come back fitter and I'm still trying to improve on that. I'm working toward getting to where I know I can be.
“I've bent the gaffer's ear probably more than anyone else this season and I think it's helped.
“He has said that the happier I am the better I'll play.
“That's true of most players and I feel happy now.
“But nobody enjoys losing so once we start getting some points I'm sure I'll feel even better.”
Pools, meanwhile, are setting up a fans panel to improve communication between supporters the club.
Officials are seeking ten fans from a selection of different sections of support with the aim of meeting every two months.
“There’s no doubt that we have a passionate and loyal fan base and we know we need to listen to them more and hopefully learn some things from them,” said chief executive Russ Green.
“We’re hoping that this new Panel will give us the opportunity to gather feedback direct from supporters and together make changes for the better.
“It’s something new and I’m sure it will adapt as we go along but we’d like to get things up and running as soon as possible.”
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