NEIL Austin has revealed that the Hartlepool United players are all too aware of false dawns.
It was after the joy of the 3-2 victory at Sheffield United last month that Pools shattered renewed optimism as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Preston North End.
Tomorrow, they take on Notts County at Victoria Park on the back of last weekend’s 3-1 win at Portsmouth, a result which, like the Bramall Lane triumph, has restored hope in the camp.
But Austin says there has been an air of caution apparent at Maiden Castle this week, and that is why defeat against The Magpies is not an option.
“We’ve been talking about it amongst ourselves – we beat Sheff United but then lost the next game, it killed us a little bit,” he told SportMail.
“It’s so important that doesn’t happen tomorrow.
“We have to take the momentum into the game.
“Among the lads it’s all we’ve spoken about, we have to follow up last weekend with another result.”
The gap to safety stands at 10 points and Austin believes Pools are fortunate it is not greater.
“We’ve been lucky in that the gap has stayed pretty constant,” he went on.
“But we have to take advantage of that and start picking up points on the weekends when other teams lose.
“We’ve narrowed it by a few points in recent weeks and as long as we chip away at it each week then we’re heading in the right direction.”
Austin – back in the team following a four-game ban for a second red card of the season in the home game against Oldham – enjoyed the South Coast success, although he believes there has been evidence of improvement in recent weeks.
“The win certainly made the journey home a lot more enjoyable, for us and the fans,” said the full-back.
“We knew it was a crucial match – it wasn’t that we couldn’t afford to lose, we needed to win.
“But I think you’ve seen the performances have picked up and we felt it was coming.
“We’ve been unlucky in a few games and dropped some bad points.
“But the work-rate was fantastic and the formation worked.
“We’ve got Portsmouth in a couple of weeks and we need the same outcome again.”
Tomorrow sees the return of Gary Liddle to the Vic, the long-serving Pools favourite having left the club in the summer.
And Austin admits the former Boro trainee will be afforded a warm welcome.
“I spoke to him last week, he’s enjoying it and they’re doing well,” he said.
“We’re pleased for him because he’s a great lad.
“I think he left for himself, he felt it was time in his life and career to move on.
“That’s fair enough and he’s done well.”