Hartlepool United’s current situation is nothing to shout about – but Nicky Featherstone says their improved home form gives them belief for tonight’s FA Cup second round replay.
Pools are under pressure to perform against Salford City, pressure with a capital P. It is a must-win game – the trip to Salford 11 days ago was a must-not-lose match.
If we don’t match them for determination and desire it could prove a difficult night againNICKY FEATHERSTONE
This is different, Pools can’t afford to fail in front of the TV cameras at this stage of the competition for the second year in a row.
Featherstone was in the Pools midfield the night Blyth Spartans won 2-1 at the Vic but instead of recalling that negative, the 27-year-old wants the side to concentrate on the positives of their recent home form.
Pools were fortunate to beat Cheltenham Town in the first round at the Vic but since then they thumped Leyton Orient 3-1 and outplayed promotion favourites Oxford United, only to lose 1-0.
“We’ve had two very positive performances,” Featherstone told SportMail.
“I know we didn’t get the result from the Oxford game but we definitely could have got something out of the game.
“Before that we had a good performance and win against Leyton Orient.
“We’ve been working on trying to keep the ball and it’s important we do that.”
Possession is vital but so is what Pools do with it.
They will not have it all their own way tonight against an Evo Stik NorthernPremier Division side who have won all but one of their 10 away matches.
Featherstone admits Salford are not in the calibre of side they met on Saturday when they lost 4-0 at Portsmouth.
“True but if we don’t match them for determination and desire it could prove a difficult night again,” said the former Hereford star, guarding against any notions Pools just need to turn up to win.
“Salford are a good team as they proved in the first game.”
Despite the tie coming only 72 hours after a difficult afternoon at Fratton Park and then a long journey home, Featherstone says Pools relish the opportunity to bounce back.
“It’s good there is a game so soon,” he said. “It gives us a chance to put things right and hopefully progress into the next round.”