Matthew Bates sets THESE targets for Hartlepool United - and warns of a '˜kick in the teeth'
Matthew Bates wants Hartlepool United to finish October unbeaten and without conceding - despite still having to overcome two tough tests.
The month was always considered to be a tough one for Pools, who will play fellow play-off contenders Sutton United and Wrexham in the space of four days.
But Bates is encouraged by how the month has progressed so far, with his side remaining unbeaten after tricky fixtures against Boreham Wood, Leyton Orient and Kidsgrove Athletic.
And the Pools boss has set his side the target of finishing the month unbeaten - but admits it will be tough in a league where there are no easy fixtures.
“Like I said ahead of this month, it’s a tough one but we’re unbeaten in it and it’s nearly the end of the month now,” he said, speaking before the visit of Sutton United.
“It’s one of those months where you look at it and, there were only four league fixtures, but they were all difficult.
“If we can remain unbeaten for the whole month, I’d have snapped your hands off for that and that’s the aim.
“They are two tough fixtures, but most of them are.
“I’m looking down the list and trying to see when the next easy one is, but there aren’t many.
“We take both games as tough games and try and get a win.”
Bates has also laid down the gauntlet to his defensive players, who have so far gone throughout October without conceding a goal.
And the former centre back now wants to see that kind of form continue.
“You think three clean sheets is good but it’s not great for a defender,” admitted Bates.
“We want to try and build that on to four, five and six because that’s the sign of a good back three or a good back four.”
Key to sustaining a run of form in the National League will be consistency and, in a league where many teams can put in mixed performances from week-to-week, Bates is keen to see his side buck the trend.
The Pools chief is keen to ensure his side are focused only on their own performance and not whether the opposition will turned - and has warned of a ‘kick in the teeth’ if they let their levels drop.
“Teams in this league are very similar and it’s all about consistency,” he added.
“Week-by-week you don’t know which team you’re going to come up against in terms of whether they are going to be at it or not.
“There’s a lot of surprises, as we’ve seen in some results from games.
“To go back to that point I always make, we’ll just worry about ourselves and make sure that we’re 100%.
“We’re a match for anyone if we are and if we aren’t then this league has a habit of kicking you in the teeth. “
Meanwhile, Bates is expecting a ‘physical’ test this afternoon.
“They’re very similar to last year and very physical,” he admitted.
“They get the ball forward early and look to win the second balls in midfield. Then when they’re in our final third, they try and play a little bit.”