Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor reflects on 'record breaking' first full season in charge with 10 games to go
Hartlepool United are enjoying their best league campaign in 14 years.
With 10 games remaining, Pools sit second in the National League table with 16 wins to their name.
It’s the most victories any Pools side has achieved since the 2006-07 League Two promotion season (26 wins) even though the campaign is still far from over.
Since 2007, Pools had never won more than 15 games or achieved a top half finish over the course of a 46 game season.
But things have changed in Dave Challinor’s first full season in charge at the club with the side on course for a play-off place heading into the final two months of the season.
Hartlepool currently sit second in the fifth tier, the same position they finished the campaign in 14 years ago as they bounced back to League One at the first time of asking.
But finishing runners-up won’t be enough to guarantee promotion this time out as the lottery of the play-offs seems to be where Pools are headed unless leaders Sutton United do their best impression of Newcastle United’s 1995-96 squad.
Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, this is a campaign that Challinor and Hartlepool can look back on with pride and fondness in spite of the notable absence of supporters throughout.
The side are currently on an 11 game unbeaten streak, their longest since 2007 and won eight consecutive matches at Victoria Park between December and March – their longest run of home wins since 2007 once again.
“To be able to break records and set records is great,” Challinor told The Mail.
“Whether it be with individual games, runs or over the course of the season, we’ve been able to do that. The idea is to move forward from where we were at.”
Challinor estimates that his side require four more wins from their final 10 matches of the season in order to secure a healthy play-off position – though his ambitions are higher.
"At the start of the season, you know if you can get at least 20 wins, you’ll be right up near the top of the table and in the play-off places,” he added.
"That gets you 60 points plus maybe 10 draws which would give you a play-off place so we’re not too far away from that from that total at the moment.
"To do it with the amount of games we’ve got left is a real positive and we’ve just got to keep ticking along and keep ticking those wins off.
"That’s our first milestone and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve other higher targets we have set as well. Regardless of what happens, we’ll take our medicine for us and see where we are on May 22 which is set to be our last game.
"After that, we’ll deal with the aftermath of that when it comes out.”
As it stands, Pools’ final game of the season will be away at leaders Sutton on the penultimate week of the campaign. Due to Dover Athletic ending their season early and their results being expunged, Challinor’s side are left without a game on May 29.