CHARACTER, resilience and determination.
Not three words you would usually associate with Hartlepool United’s players this season after a dismal campaign which currently sees John Hughes’ side rooted to the foot of League One with just 13 points and a goal difference of minus 28.
But credit where it is due, and Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to Shrewsbury Town was a much improved display and it followed on from the excellent win away to Sheffield United.
Against Shrewsbury, the players showed good character to come from a goal-behind to equalise and a resilience and determination to hold on for the point.
It was just a shame they didn’t have more self-belief to go for the win.
I was lucky enough (at least I think that’s the right phrase) to be able to cover the game for the Hartlepool Mail and you could see how visibly frustrated Hughes was that his side had not pushed on in search of all three points.
But, in fairness, the away form has improved in recent weeks and there are signs of better days ahead under Hughes, away from Victoria Park at least.
Unfortunately those fans who go to the home games haven’t seen a display like that in weeks.
The next two games, both at home, will define the season.
The first against Colchester United on Saturday is followed by a tough assignment against in-form AFC Bournemouth next Tuesday.
If, by some miracle, Pools could snatch two wins then the fight to stay in this division could really be on, depending on results elsewhere of course.
Even four points could be enough to really instil a renewed confidence in the players and managers.
But two defeats and you can draw the curtains on this season and start planning next year’s away trips in the depths of League Two.
Many will argue that Pools were relegated weeks back and it is hard to say otherwise as just to get out of the relegation zone Hartley and co would need to quickly string together at least four wins, and then hope that every other team around us drops points.
For a side that has just won twice all season, that is no easy feat.
- RICHARD MENNEAR