Dave Challinor's clear three word message to Hartlepool United fans ahead of play-off semi-final at Stockport County

Dave Challinor is busy preparing his Hartlepool United squad for the club’s biggest game in years.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 12:30 pm

Sunday’s play-off semi-final at Stockport County (12pm kick-off) will go a long way to deciding the club’s season.

Win and Pools are through to the final at Ashton Gate with a chance at promotion to the Football League, lose and their season is over and it’s a fifth straight season of non-league football.

The pressure is very much on but it’s the type of atmosphere Challinor wants his players to embrace.

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Hartlepool United fans at the wend of the game.Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley FC National League Playoff. 06-06-20212. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United fans at the wend of the game.Hartlepool United 3-2 Bromley FC National League Playoff. 06-06-20212. Picture by FRANK REID

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“You've got to thrive in this atmosphere and environment,” he said. “You have to enjoy it.

"As much as some of them may see it as some people are finished and it's been a 12 month schedule to get us to this point if you like.

"There's still everything to play for and this week and a bit could be the most memorable period of their careers so you've got to recognise what they've done but also recognise the opportunity we've given ourselves that we've got to try and take.”

After returning for Pools’ wins over Weymouth and Bromley, Poolies won’t be able to attend Sunday’s huge match at Edgeley Park due to coronavirus restrictions.

So Challinor has given a simple message to supporters ahead of the potentially season defining match.

"Just keep believing,” he said.

“What we've tried to do since we've come into the football club was not so much lessen expectation but build optimism around what we want to do.

"Regardless of what happens, this is about the club moving forward and we hope we get the ultimate of that in terms of moving up a division but we've got to keep doing what we've been doing. These next few weeks will be the last time this group of players is together and that's how football works, it moves on quickly.

"We'll keep working hard and put everything on the line to do as best we can for the supporters. We want one last hurrah to play in front of them and there will be no better place to do that than in a promotion final at Ashton Gate.”

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