Dave Challinor discusses points targets and how many wins Hartlepool United will need to win the National League
Hartlepool United have just 12 matches to seal their fate in the National League this season.
Dave Challinor’s side currently sit second in the National League table and have occupied the play-off positions for the majority of the campaign.
This is far and away the best chance Pools have had at a Football League return since dropping down to the fifth tier back in 2017.
Following Saturday’s results which saw Hartlepool beat Woking 1-0 at Victoria Park and leaders Sutton United concede a 94th minute equaliser against Stockport County, the lead at the top has been cut to just four points.
But with Sutton still having three games in hand on Pools, Challinor admitted winning the league outright would be a ‘big ask’ for his players with a dozen games remaining.
"I spoke to the players before the game [against Woking] about the reality of where we are and what we need to do,” Challinor said as he outlined the potential points targets for his side.
“For me, I think to win the league, we’re going to have to get around 84 points. With 13 games to go [before Saturday’s game], that’s 11 wins and a draw.
"It’s doable but it’s a big ask and that’s based on Sutton, with 16 games to go, winning half of their remaining games.
"If they fall off a cliff, we need to make sure we’re in a position to take advantage of that."
With Pools beating Woking on Saturday, it will now take 10 wins and a draw from their remaining 12 matches in order to hit that 84 point mark.
But at this stage, Challinor isn’t looking too far ahead as he looks to guarantee a top seven finish first of all.
“From our perspective, there will be a minimum number of wins and points we need to secure a play-off place and that’s solely where our next target is," he added.
“If we get to that in the next six games then brilliant and we’ll look at that. If we win five on the spin from now, that will give us 68 points and that would probably be enough to sneak in.
"If we can do that in the next five games then brilliant. We’ve then got another seven to see what happens.
"We’ll take it one at a time but we’ve got two difficult games coming up [at Dagenham & Redbridge and Stockport County]. Six points would be great but if we can’t get six points then I’d definitely take four being asked now.
“Either way, at the start of the season, if we’d had been offered three play-off wins to get into the Football League then we certainly would have taken it.”
For Pools, it’s a case of winning five of their remaining 12 games to almost ensure a play-off finish and a chance at promotion. A top three finish would require a few more wins but would guarantee a home match at Victoria Park with a play-off final place at Wembley up for grabs.
Win 10 out of 12 and the club could be handed its first ever league title. Let’s see what the next two months have in store.