Michael Woods wants Hartlepool United to spoil promotion-chasing Portsmouth’s visit

Michael Woods
Michael Woods

Michael Woods says Hartlepool United must transform a “sob story” into a happy ending when they face Portsmouth on Saturday.

Pools have been nearly men in their back-to-back matches against automatic promotion favourites Accrington Stanley and Oxford United.

Both matches ended in close-fought defeats and Craig Hignett’s side now finish the season with matches against sides also looking to move up into League One.

Pools host Pompey on Saturday before visiting Plymouth on the final weekend of the campaign.

Woods says the squad are excited at the visit of one of League Two’s ‘big’ clubs as they take on a sixth-placed Portsmouth, who are likely to be backed by a big and noisy army at Victoria Park.

While Paul Cook’s side are already guaranteed a play-off spot, they will be looking for victory in a bid to finish at least fifth to give themselves a second leg at Fratton Park.

Woods though hopes Pools can “spoil their party” by taking their scalp on Saturday.

“It’s been a fine line against the top teams in our last two matches,” Woods told SportMail.

“This is a fantastic game for us on Saturday - they are a massive club with a great following

“It will be a decent crowd with a good atmosphere.

“Can we get a win against one of the top teams?

“Why not, let’s go and spoil a couple of parties between now and the end of the season.

“That’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Pools were given something of a going-over by Pompey at Fratton Park back in December, an insatiable home side winning 4-0.

But Woods warned Portsmouth that they will not be a soft touch this time.

“We are a different side now and playing food football,” he stressed.

It was the heaviest defeat of the season with Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens running riot though, it has to be noted, Pools had a few great chances but could not score.

The failure to find the net at Oxford on Saturday was also a crucial factor.

Pools forced the U’s back on numerous occasions and played some excellent possession stuff, gaining plaudits for their football.

“But we don’t to become a sob story of ‘we nearly did it’,” said Woods.

“We want to be ruthless and start to win these games.

“It is a fine line at the moment between us and those teams we’ve played at the top.

“It’s that final pass or sticking the ball in the back of the net.”

Pools could be boosted by the return of Billy Paynter.

The 15-goal striker, who certainly knows where the net is located, is responding well to treatment to a hamstring injury.

Paynter has missed the last five matches, which have resulted in two wins and three defeats.