THE tense relegation run-in has more do with players showing their mental strength, than it does technical ability.
That is the view of Hartlepool United keeper Scott Flinders, who has called on his teammates to overcome their nerves once and for all and secure the club’s league status.
It is a massive mental gameScott Flinders
With just two games of the Sky Bet League Two campaign to go, Ronnie Moore’s side remain a point above the drop zone.
Victory at home to Exeter City tomorrow, coupled with defeats for Cheltenham Town and a draw or defeat for Tranmere Rovers, would see Pools safe.
Flinders is not taking anything for granted though.
The experienced campaigner, who has 346 career appearances to his name, knows the players in front of him on the pitch need to keep their cool, if Pools are to keep their place in the league.
The 28-year-old Yorkshireman told SportMail: “At this stage of the season, it is all about what is in the mind.
“It is a massive mental game.
“We have got ability and have showed that in recent weeks when we won four matches on the spin.
“Now we need to reproduce some of those performances back when we were winning games.
“If we keep our nerve, we can do just that.”
With Pools winless in five league matches, beating Exeter City will be no easy task.
There is some hope though, with Pools having already beaten Exeter once this season – 2-1 in the reverse fixture back in October.
Paul Tisdale’s Exeter side are still within touching distance of the play-off spots but they are themselves without a win in three matches.
His side like to play attacking football and the Pools captain says his side will have to do the basics right, if they are to come out on top.
This situation is, sadly, nothing new for the Clarence Road club.
This time last year it took a dramatic Easter Monday win over Morecambe to secure the club’s league status after six straight defeats almost saw them drop out of the league.
Flinders, who conceded three in the defeat to Luton Town last weekend, says that experience can only help, especially the younger players in the squad who were at Pools last season.
Flinders added: “It has been a difficult couple of weeks for us and we need to get back down to basics again.
“The Luton Town game was disappointing, of course, but it has gone and while we analysed the goals, we were straight back into training to set up for tomorrow.
“There is a different feeling and mentality now around the club.
“We had been in the bottom two for so long and now we are out of it, it’s all about staying out of it and keeping above the line.
“We’ve enough players here to see the job out. We have also got young players here now who have played a lot of games and been in similar situations, take last year.
“Now it is up to the lads to again step up to the mark,” added the Rotherham-born stopper.