Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor assesses Chesterfield and Bromley ahead of 'biggest weekend of the season' in the National League
This bank holiday weekend could prove to be decisive in the National League promotion race.
As we head into the final month of the 2020-21 season, just five points separate the top four teams in the division. Below that, there are only six points between Halifax Town in fifth and Notts County, who have two games in hand, in ninth.
It’s still all to play for and this weekend with several sides at the top facing each other. Third placed Hartlepool United host sixth placed Chesterfield on Saturday evening before making a gruelling 300-mile trip down to Bromley on Sunday ahead of a bank holiday Monday match at Hayes Lane.
Elsewhere in the National League play-off picture, leaders Torquay will take on Eastleigh and Chesterfield while Sutton face a trip to Notts County and Stockport travel to Halifax.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor told The Mail. “It’s a big weekend for us and come Tuesday evening with so many games taking place over a short period of time, the table could have a more clear picture in terms of where things are.
"We’ve got two tough games against two teams who are vying to get in or stay in the play-offs. We know it will be difficult and Chesterfield are obviously much changed from earlier in the season.
He added: "It is the biggest weekend of the season for us but that’s because it’s our next two games. There will always be important times over the course of the season like at Christmas and New Year where you’ve got two games in a short space of time.
"With the importance of the games we play, the opposition we’re up against and the other games going on, it only adds to that importance.
"It’s a huge weekend for us and a lot of others too, hopefully come Tuesday after Notts v Sutton is over, the table still looks promising for us if not better.”
Pools host Chesterfield live on BT Sport on Saturday evening (5:20pm kick-off) but Challinor is expecting a completely different beast to the one his side beat 2-1 at the Technique Stadium during the opening week of the season.
"It’s completely different in terms of personnel,” the Hartlepool boss continued. “They’ve got a new manager – I watched them on Saturday against Wrexham and off the top of my head, there was probably only two players who played against us back in October who played for them at Wrexham last weekend.
"They’re completely different but we’re also quite a bit different from that time as well so we’re looking forward to the game. It’s a tough weekend for us but a massively important one with a late kick-off on Saturday and having to travel down to London.
"Of all the teams, we’re probably one who doesn’t benefit from it because we’re having to go to Bromley who don’t play on Saturday but that’s just the way things have worked out.
"The importance of the games will override that and we’ll be looking to get six points if we can because that would be a huge return over two tough games.”