A trip to Plymouth Argyle is the perfect acid test for Hartlepool United’s League Two play-off credentials, according to Scott Harrison.
The central defender admits that aiming for a top seven spot this season might be a touch ambitious, especially after Pools’ recent exploits in the division.
We have got a great group so there is no reason why we can’t be in the play-offsScott Harrison
But Harrison is of the belief that such a lofty finish is well within Craig Hignett’s men’s reach. And what better way to prove that than go to top of the pile Plymouth and produce the goods.
“We have got a great group so there is no reason why we can’t be in the play-offs,” said centre-back Harrison.
“If we stick together as a team and keep working hard we can definitely be fighting towards the top half of the table.
“Of course it’s an ambitious target after the last three or four seasons.
“Every year we’ve been worried about relegation, but I don’t think that will be a problem this time around.
“After years and years of the same thing you get bored of it.
“Going to the team who are top of the table and producing a performance is the perfect way to prove that.”
Securing safety is never far from the minds of those at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
The great escape of two seasons ago is still fresh in the memory for many of the staff and the fans, and even last season’s flirtations with the drop should urge caution.
Harrison is keen for all that too be a distant memory.
He wants Pools to make sure that this season, they are never looking over their shoulders.
“A few of the lads have been talking about getting safe,” he said.
“Maybe we have waited a bit late to do that but we hope it’ll be different this time.
“The signs are there that we’ve improved, taking the Stevenage game. If we are all on it on the day we can beat anyone in this league.”
The Pilgrims have won the last seven on the bounce in all competitions.
But the fact they opened up the campaign with three defeats proves there are chinks in their armour, says Harrison.
“They’re not the type of team who will roll you over,” he said.
“They are a good group who always manage to get results.
“But when we played them at home last season we didn’t deserve to lose - we can take confidence from that.
“We are just going to go for it.”
The 23-year-old continued: “They started off with a few defeats so they can be beaten but since then they have been brilliant.
“They have seven wins on the bounce but we do not fear them.
“In this league anyone can beat anyone. It is funny like that.
“It feels like you can go to top of the league and win then go to bottom of the league and lose.”
Saturday, May 7 was a day many Pools players are keen to forget.
That afternoon they were battered 5-0 at Home Park.
And Harrison says the lads in the dressing room are more fired up than ever to give a better account of themselves.
“I wasn’t there last season but I obviously watched the highlights. The lads know they did not play anywhere near the level they know they can,” he said.
“The game should be forgotten about but it will be in some players’ minds and that might not be a bad thing.
“The lads are definitely going to be a bit more fired up for it this time.”