HARTLEPOOL United are aiming for five home league wins in a row for the first time since their last promotion season.
But boss Colin Cooper has warned that tomorrow’s clash with Portsmouth at Victoria Park will “not be easy” (kick-off 3pm).
In golfing parlance it looks a ‘gimme’ given the absolute mess Pompey find themselves in.
Portsmouth have lost five in a row and are managerless after sacking one-time fans favourite Guy Whittingham this week.
Contrast that with Pools who, despite Tuesday night’s defeat at Bury, are moving along nicely in 13th spot in League Two, just six points shy of the play-offs.
Pools have not won five on the bounce at the Vic since the magical promotion run under Danny Wilson in 2006-07.
And Cooper insists they will not make it five tomorrow if the football and attitute are not right.
“Portsmouth will be hard,” Cooper told SportMail.
“If anyone thinks because they are 18th and they have just got rid of their manager that we just need to turn up to win then there’s a very good chance we’ll get a kick up the backside.
“Look at where we have come from in the last 10 weeks.
“Look at what Accrington have done in the last eight weeks and that’s possible for any team in this division I
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“You have to earn your wins in this league.
“We cannot just turn up and expect things to fall into place for us – that is not the reality of football.
“If we go at it hard and do our out-of-possession stuff well and do our in-possession stuff better than we did on Tuesday night at Bury then we’ll definitely give Portsmouth a game.
“But I know it’s not going to be easy.”
Cooper said he has been saddened by the events at Pompey over recent times.
The fallen giants have gone from leading AC Milan in the UEFA Cup to sliding down the Football League in just 60 painful months.
Portsmouth are understood to be close to appointing former Pools striker Richard Barker as their new manager.
One of Wilson’s promotion heroes from that nine-match home winning run, Barker was fired this week by Crawley and is a hot tip for a quick switch to Fratton Park though he may not be appointed in time for tomorrow’s visit to town.
“I played against Portsmouth in the Premier League so the club has, unfortunately, dropped away dramatically,” Cooper said.
“It’s been no fault of the set-up there now, but they find themselves where they find themselves.
“The group have made what I think is a harsh decision against Guy.
“I have played against Andy Awford and Alan McLoughlin, who were both very good players.
“I’ve seen their game against Southend and they will be very disappointed to lose 2-1 having been 1-0 up against 10 men.
“I would suggest they will be coming up here and, first and foremost, they will make sure they will be difficult to beat.”