Dave Challinor’s pragmatic view of Hartlepool United's form going into the National League play-offs

“Would you love to go into the play-offs having not lost in 23 games?”

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 4:45 pm

Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor is taking the positives from his side’s back to back defeats that ultimately cost them a shot at the National League title this season.

Pools were 16 games unbeaten in the National League before losing 1-0 at Bromley and 4-2 at home to Maidenhead United.

Fortunately, they bounced back with an encouraging 3-1 win at Aldershot Town on Saturday afternoon which confirmed a top five place and a home play-off match at Victoria Park in June.

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Hartlepool manager, Dave Challinor (r) looks on during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Maidenhead United at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 8th May 2021. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Whether that’s a play-off semi-final or eliminator round match is dependent on Pools bettering Stockport County’s results in their final two league matches against Sutton United and Weymouth.

When asked how important Pools’ bouncing back at Aldershot was in regard to their play-off campaign, Challinor responded: “I’m not overly sure to be honest.

"Would you love to go into the play-offs having not lost in 23 games? I’m not sure that would be a great mindset to go into it because you’ll be thinking you’re going to lose at some point.

"For me, what the two games before Aldershot have done is lost us the opportunity to finish top or second. That’s obviously disappointing so our fate is set if you like where it’s about finishing third or fourth.

"We’ll see where that takes us and these games now are about preparing us for the more important ones further down the line.”

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Despite the two defeats, Pools have still won 16 and drawn seven of their last 27 National League matches and remain one of the in form sides in the division in 2021.

“I don’t think the two defeats have resulted in us losing form in terms of our performances by any stretch,” Challinor continued.

“We lost a close game at Bromley where we came up against a goalkeeper who had a very good game then we conceded four horrific goals at home where we’d won almost every game we’ve played this year.

"It’s better for that to happen in a league game against Maidenhead than in a play-off game that would end our season. I’m happy to take that view on it and move forward.”

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