Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor discusses 'play-off mindset', Stockport County looking for revenge and expectations in the National League
Dave Challinor wants Hartlepool United to get into the ‘play-off mindset’ as they prepare to travel to fourth placed Stockport County on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Pools currently second in the National League table, six points ahead of The Hatters having played two games more.
And now we’ve reached the business end of the season, Challinor is treating the match like the play-off tie that it could potentially be come the end of the regular season.
"It would have been a huge game with supporters in, probably at least 6,000 with how many we would have taken down and their home support,” Challinor told The Mail.
“It's still an important game and it's against a direct rival who we can influence. It’s a game to look forward to and one we treat as a play-off game with a dress rehearsal of what that might look like.
"We need to get into the play-off mindset now. The players need to be approaching games with the mentality of if you lose then that’s you done.
"There will be a moment where we achieve something and get promoted or don’t achieve and our season is over. What we’ve done so far is a big achievement and we’ve got some big games coming up and they’re great to be involved in.
“We go into it full of confidence with good belief. It’s a tough ask but one that’s not completely out of the question.
"We’re in decent shape, we’ve just got to focus on the things we control.”
Back in December, Pools picked up their biggest home win of the season as they beat Stockport 4-0 at Victoria Park.
The visitors had two men sent off that evening but it was a result that kick-started Pools’ upturn in form as they’ve only lost two matches since.
"I hope it’s exactly the same [as the reverse fixture],” Challinor smirked.
“It’s far easier to play against nine men than 11! We’ve been victims of red cards in recent weeks ourselves.
“They’ve changed since we last played them with a new manager and personnel slightly. It’s something that will be in their heads knowing what happened that night and they’ll be looking to avenge that.
"Things went our way that night and hopefully they do again on Saturday.”
Pools go into the game at Edgeley Park looking to extend their club record 10 game unbeaten run in the National League.
But they’re up against a Stockport side who have been well backed this season with several top quality signings including Paddy Madden on a three year deal from League One side Fleetwood Town last week.
“They’ve made no secret of what they want to do and have heavily invested on and off the pitch to give them the best chance to move through the leagues but it’s not as easy as that,” Challinor continued.
“This is a competitive league and when you add in that there is only one guaranteed promotion place, it’s even more difficult.
"There are no guarantees but they’ve done everything they could to give themselves the best chance.
"But given the investment they’ve made, finishing outside the top three might be deemed as a failure and that’s pressure and expectation they have to deal with.”