Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor reacts to Woking's FA Trophy furlough plan
Hartlepool United’s weekend opponents Woking could put players on furlough should they be knocked out of the FA Trophy next weekend.
As a result, The Cards’ match at Victoria Park this Saturday could be the final National League game in which they field a full strength side.
Woking currently sit 18th in the table, 19 points behind Pools in second. With a play-off place unlikely and relegation off the table, Alan Dowson stated that the club’s FA Trophy semi-final match against Hereford next weekend is the ‘only thing that matters’ to his side this season.
It’s a bold stance, but one Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor understands going into Saturday’s match.
“I get on great with Alan,” he said. “He’s from up this way and he probably has as much trouble understanding me as I do him!
"Having been in with a chance of getting to the FA Trophy final, I know if I was sat in Woking’s position, I’d much rather win the Trophy semi-final than Saturday’s game.
"But their players will all be wanting to perform against us to make sure they’re on the teamsheet for the semi-final next weekend.”
Should Woking be knocked out of the FA Trophy next weekend, it is likely that they will play youngsters rather than take the extreme measure Dover Athletic did and cancel their season.
“If they were looking to do a Dover then great for us if their results are expunged because we lost 3-0 down there!” Challinor joked.
Since being beaten 3-0 at Woking in December, Pools have lost just two of their last 16 matches as they’ve climbed into promotion contention.
Meanwhile, Woking have won just two of their 13 league matches since – reserving their best performances and results for their FA Trophy campaign.
"I’m not sure if that game was a turning point in our season,” Challinor commented.
“The nature of this league is about being consistent and we’ve been consistent in the main and the players know when they haven’t performed.
"That defeat at Woking was one occasion where we didn’t perform and I told the players that. We made really poor mistakes which cost us.
"Whether it’s a turning point or whether things happen for a reason, I’m not too sure but we’ve been able to put a run together since then which has built confidence and belief which has put us in a position in the table that everyone is delighted about and it makes things easier.
"Everyone wants to be at the right end of the table and involved in games that have meaning in a positive way.
"Things happen, we didn’t perform then and from our perspective we have the chance to right some wrongs when we play Woking in the reverse fixture on Saturday.
"Since that game, fortunes of both teams have gone in opposite directions almost but we’ll be looking forward to that one.
“I expect what you expect whatever you get when you come up against Woking. They’ll work hard, press and look to get on the front foot.
"We’ve got to match that and have the type of game which suits us rather than them.”