Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison wants to be in National League promotion race

Craig Harrrison.
Craig Harrrison.

Craig Harrison wants to be in the top six when the National League promotion race goes into its business end in 2018.

Pools are just two games away from the mid-point of the season, with tomorrow’s trip to Ebbsfleet a vital fixture (kick-off 3pm).

Harrison’s side are at a season-high 11th in the table, hardly something to boast about for a club of Pools’s stature.

But it gives them a good platform to push on ahead of a hectic festive schedule.

Should Pools inflict a defeat on Ebbsfleet they would be within touching distance of the top seven AND open a six point gap over their hosts, one of the many promotion wannabees, and a serious rival for a place in the play-offs.

After tomorrow, Pools face consecutive Saturdays against clubs with title aspirations – Macclesfield (H) and Dover (A).

Harrison knows a continuation of Tuesday night’s form against Halifax will be key to their ambitions.

“We’ve been on a good run, losing three in 16, is not bad,” he said. “It’s going to have to be a fantastic run to better that.

“The aim is can we go and win three, four, five and put us in a good position?

“We had a bad start to the season so we were always playing catch up.

“The important thing is we move on now and get us in a position where we are there or thereabouts at Christmas.

“There are four games in 10 days over the festive period, when we want as many points as we can.

“If we are in the top six by January, which is the plan, then we will be ready to strike.

“We’re only eight points from the top and it’s over the festive period when things can change hands.

“We’re just two points off the play-offs and yes we’d like to be in there and, ideally, we want to be top.

“We aren’t there yet but how do we get there? That’s the most important thing.”

Getting three points won’t be easy tomorrow – Ebbsfleet defeats are rare. Only the top two have lost fewer matches and the club, owned by Kuwaiti group, KEH Sports, are hoping for successive promotions to reach the EFL.

“We know all about Ebbsfleet,” said Harrison, who will not accept a monster 550-mile round trip as a reason for not performing. “We’ve had reports, analysis and footage of them. But the message will be ‘go and do the same thing’ [as Tuesday].

“I don’t know the stats about distances, it’s a long trip, but that’s no excuse.

“If we can’t be positive after a 4-0 victory then there’s something wrong.”

Harrison wants the same intensity at 15th-placed Fleet as there was against Halifax.

“You could not pick one outstanding player on Tuesday night, they were all as brilliant as they were bad last Saturday,” he smiled.

“Now it’s about keeping that form going and developing a consistency.”

“Tempo, momentum, being on the front foot, that’s what we need.”