Hartlepool United boss Dave Challinor ‘looking forward’ to fan return at Sutton United despite no away fans
Hartlepool United will be back playing in front of supporters at Sutton United on Sunday afternoon (12:45pm kick-off).
It will be the third time Pools have played in front of a crowd away from home this season following the FA Cup fourth qualifying round win at Ilkeston Town which saw 400 fans attend back in October and the 3-0 National League defeat at Woking in front of 799 supporters in December 2020.
Roughly 1,000 Sutton supporters are set to attend the potentially decisive game at Gander Green Lane with the hosts in with a shot of claiming the league title.
No Pools fans will be able to attend the match but manager Dave Challinor is still looking forward to a more vibrant matchday experience after almost an entire season of playing matches behind closed doors.
"We’d much rather have some of our own supporters in there because our supporters, particularly travelling away from home, are normally big in numbers, vocal and can be a big influence on the game,” he said.
“There will be points in any game, home or away, where you can call upon your supporters to get you through it. When you’re looking to hang on or grab a goal in the last five minutes and sometimes external influences from supporters can have a bigger impact than what you might think.
"That’s not the case, it’s solely a home crowd and they’ll want their home crowd to help them through home scenarios. We’ve got to make sure they don’t influence that situation.
“Regardless of whether we're playing home or away, all of the players will be looking forward to having some atmosphere after what has been really a sterile situation.
“Everyone is looking forward to it, unfortunately there's no away fans but we'll have the opportunity the following week. It’s good for the next couple of weeks and a change from what has become the norm in terms of having no fans in.
“All of a sudden, this needs to become back to normal for these big pressure games going back into the play-offs.”
Pools will welcome around 1,700 fans back to Victoria Park for the first time this season against Weymouth on May 29 (12:30pm kick-off). They will then host a play-off match at The Vic in June.