Hartlepool United have overachieved this season, according to manager Matthew Bates.
But that does not mean Bates is ruling out securing promotion back to the Football League at the second time of asking.
The Pools boss has been blown away by the impact his side have had on the National League this season.
Losing just twice and climbing to eighth in the table, Bates’ men have been one of the stand out performers in the fifth tier since August.
They have, though, far exceeded Bates’ expectations.
“We have got a good squad, a good group but on the whole the players have been overachieving,” said Bates, whose side take on Aldershot at the Super 6 Stadium this afternoon looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at promotion favourites Salford.
“We are still a new group.
“When you look at the squad at Salford, the strikers, the budget, the wingers, the midfield. The investment they have put in is incredible.
“We are not a guarantee to finish in the play offs. We want to be up there but we have to keep doing the basics well, which is what we have been doing so far.
“Hopefully we are in the play off mix come the end of the season. That is where we aimed to be at the start of the season and where we aim to be now.”
Confidence is the biggest factor in the turnaround of the Pools story for Bates, who was parachuted in to save the club from relegation to the National League North in March.
“The players are confident and that feeling almost makes you better than you actually are,” he said.
“We just need them to keep managing their own levels and expectations and keep to doing what has got us this far. Do that, and the results will take of themselves.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves. We know what we are and where we want to go.
“Don’t get too low with defeats and too high with wins.
“There might be times when we lose two games or go four without a win. That happens in football.
“It is just about keeping level-headed.
“Do that and you get your fair share of results along the way.”