Matthew Bates is more convinced than ever that Hartlepool United can win their do-or-die showdown with Doncaster Rovers in front of a national TV audience.
The second bottom v second top battle, a must-win game for both clubs at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, has been selected for live coverage on Sky Sports.
If the lads can give anything like that performance and effort I really fancy us to get a winMATTHEW BATES
Pools have a mountain to climb if they are to stay in the Football League – they must beat the title chasers and hope Newport County fail to defeat Notts County on the same evening.
The relegation battlers missed an opportunity to move out of the League Two’s drop zone when they lost at fellow strugglers, Cheltenham, 1-0 on a day Newport went down 2-1 at Carlisle.
However, despite the defeat at Whaddon Road, Bates is “confident” Pools can shock the Rovers goal-machine.
“As I’ve said before this is a mini-league and we must now beat Doncaster and hope Notts County do us a favour,” said Bates.
“Our work towards Doncaster starts today and because the lads have put that performance in and listened to us, I have every confidence we can go and beat them.
“I think if you ask the fans they will be more confident too than they were before.
“I’m 100% confident.
“If the lads can give anything like that performance and effort they gave against Cheltenham I really fancy us to get a win.”
Bates said the result at Whaddon Road was tough to take, given the blood, sweat and tears shed in a bid to climb out of the bottom two.
“Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve,” said the 30-year-old.
“We knew what we were going to get from them, we worked on it all week and the lads all knew their jobs, you could see that from minute one.
“To come away like that with nothing is disappointing.
“There was a difference in how we played, how we reacted.
“I think the chairman made the change for a reaction and he got one.
“One lapse in concentration has cost us – on another day we’d have won that game.”
Bates, who is heading the interim management team with Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher, was not afraid to make a change or four to the Pools team.
He brought right-back Jordan Richards back from his loan spell at Alfreton, switching Carl Magnay to the left side.
Bates recalled Lewis Hawkins after five matches on the bench and restored Padraig Amond up top alongside Lewis Alessandra with first Nathan Thomas and then Rhys Oates in close support in an attack-minded a 4-3-3 formation.
The ‘gaffer’ had one word for Hawkins, but said he could not single out any member of his squad.
“Magnificent,” said Bates. “But you can’t go through the team and say anyone had a bad game.
“The chairman might have put me as the so-called front man but we are all working together closely.
“I think you can see by the response of the lads of how they have listened to us and believed in us.”