Craig Hignett has lifted Hartlepool United to their highest league placing for over five months but has told his players: Don’t stop now.
Pools rose four places to 17th in League Two when they extended their unbeaten run to six games yesterday with a 2-0 victory at high-fliers Leyton Orient thanks to goals by Billy Paynter and Nathan Thomas.
Since conceding four times in an abject defeat at Bristol Rovers on March 1, Pools have registered four wins and two draws, letting in just two goals in that period.
In fact, Pools have not let in a goal in 417 minutes of football and Hignett wants to carry that form into April, which starts with a home game against Mansfield Town on Saturday.
“We have moved up a few places which is nice,” said Hignett. “It gives everyone a lift.
“It’s been hard sometimes to look at the table when we’ve been playing well but not seemed to move anywhere.
“Now the lads can look at the table and feel proud.
“But I’ve said to them look how far we can go.
“I told the lads ‘don’t be happy going four, five or six unbeaten, let’s go seven, eight or more’.
“I’d like us to go for records. It’s the same with clean sheets.
“We’ve had four in a row now, which is brilliant.
“But why can’t we have five, six or seven?
“Trevor Carson made some great saves yesterday and Orient put us under a bit of pressure, but we have defended really well.
“It was the same on Friday against Wimbledon who hit a lot of long, diagonal balls into us.
“But we defended well as a team.”
The transformation since the Memorial Stadium mauling has been remarkable and Pools are now 14 points clear of second-bottom York City – and they still have two games in hand.
Mathematically, Pools are not out of danger, but realistically they are.
To Hignett’s credit, the new boss has never looked down, only up and his optimism has been justified.
“I keep hitting targets earlier than I expected to,” he smiled.
“I think we are almost safe now – with nine games left.
“The challenge now is not to give away the good work we have put in and keep it going.”
Hignett has given his squad a couple of days off after a tough run of seven games in 28 days.
Lewis Hawkins, Jake Gray and Luke James all took knocks yesterday at Brisbane Road and were substituted in the last 15 minutes, but the manager said there were no injury worries going into Saturday’s match against the Stags at Victoria Park.
“You don’t feel them when you are winning,” he said. “Everyone has a clean bill of health and I’ve given them until Thursday off.”