Hartlepool Utd continue push for play-offs at Wycombe Wanderers

Luke James celebrates after scoring Pools second goal against Torquay United. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James celebrates after scoring Pools second goal against Torquay United. Picture by FRANK REID

IF Hartlepool United are serious about getting into the Sky Bet League Two play-offs then they need to start stringing together a series of wins.

That is the view of manager Colin Cooper who says Saturday’s trip to Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park is another “opportunity” for his young side to edge further towards the top seven.

Pools are currently ninth in League Two, two places and five points off Southend United who occupy the last play-off position, with several teams vying for that position.

Back in September, Wycombe beat Pools 2-1 at Victoria Park thanks to two goals from Max Kretzschmar so Saturday is an opportunity for revenge for Cooper’s men.

Since then Gareth Ainsworth’s Chairboys have dropped down the league and are currently sitting fourth bottom but are unbeaten in five matches.

Cooper though is looking further up the league table.

“All you hope for at the end of the season is that you have something to play for,” said Cooper.

“If you get in the top end of the table, that is what you want to be playing for and in my opinion we need to keep stringing results together.

“We can’t afford too many Northamptons so if we don’t win we have to try and avoid defeat.

“That is the only way we can make that point tally up.

“We have to win at least two more games than Southend

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over the rest of the season and then see what happens.

“That is all you can do, your own job, and see where it takes you.

“If it brings you somewhere where you can challenge then that brings an exciting end.

“If it doesn’t then it shows that you have fallen a little bit short but we will be giving it every go.”

In Pools’ last away trip they were easily beaten 2-0 by Northampton Town but bounced back with a fine 3-0 home win over Torquay United courtesy of goals from Jack Barmby, Luke James and Marlon Harewood.

“The game provides us with another opportunity”, said Cooper.

“Wycombe are another team who had a really bright early season and to be fair when they played up here they beat us but we played reasonably well on the day.

“It was that period of games we were playing reasonably well in but not getting anything out of them.

“They have levelled off since and are now fighting for their lives.

“I’d like to think that Gareth and his staff will have looked at us over the last couple of weeks, as we are looking at them, taken note of the Northampton game that we lost and note of how we managed to beat Torquay last week.

“If we can get our job done then see what happens around us.

“But in order to bridge that gap we have to win games, Plymouth have done that by winning and that is what you have to do to get in the mix.

“If we can go to Wycombe and get a really positive result that would be great.

“You have to get something from your away games.”

Cooper added: “We have to go down there and be very hard to beat.

“They are in a position where they want to get points on the board so they are not looking over their shoulder and we want to go down there and get a positive result so that other people above us are looking over their shoulder.”

The Chairboys find themselves fourth bottom with 38 points from 33 matches - two places above the drop zone.

Ainsworth will be looking for his side to extend their good run of form though with only one defeat in their last six league matches, including seven points from the last three matches.

Last weekend, they picked up a point away to Southend United.

Pools (Likely 4-4-2): Flinders, Richards, Holden, Burgess, Collins, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby, James, Harewood.

Subs: Rafferty, Sweeney, Poole, Hawkins, Franks, Rodney, Compton.

Wycombe (Likely): Ingram, McCoy, Scowen, Stewart, Johnson, Wood, Craig , Kretzschmar, Arnold, McClure, Bloomfield.

Subs (From): Horlock, Morgan, Cowan-Hall, Jeffrey, Kuffour, Pierre, Kewley-Graham, Styche.