Hartlepool United's match at Cheltenham Town is THE heavyweight match of the day

Matthew Bates (right) in conversation with Billy Paynter
Matthew Bates (right) in conversation with Billy Paynter

Forget Joshua v Klitschko - here is the heavyweight match of the day Cheltenham Town v Hartlepool United.

Pools fans will wonder how their side have arrived at Whaddon Road needing a win to avoid being knocked out of the Football League.

When Pools led Newport by 10 points last month the side looked as safe as house. Almost.

However, the Welsh side have seemingly performed a Great Escape a la Pools in 2015 under Ronnie Moore.

Newport are now being two points ahead of Pools going into the last two games of the season.

County could relegate Pools today should they win at Carlisle and Matthew Bates's side lose at Cheltenham.

Even a Newport draw at Brunton Park allied to a Pools defeat would leave a near-impossible task on the final day of the season.

The only result Pools must get today is a win and then pray other results fall for them.

The omens are not great, Pools have only taken 17 points on the road and have not won since March 14, taking just two points from a possible 21.

Pools, as Nathan Thomas said in SportMail this week, are a different team to the one which sank without trace against Barnet last Saturday following the appointment of Bates.

The defender has been put in charge for the last two games of the season in alliance with club captain Billy Paynter, plus backroom staff, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher.

Bates made four changes, including dropping himself!

HE brought in Trevor Carson for his first game in 2017, recalled Jordan Richards following his loan sprell with Alfreton, Lewis Hawkins and top scorer Pasdraig Amond.

The 30-year-old interim boss left out himself, on-loan keeper Joe Fryer, Nicky Deverdics and Rhys Oates.

Richards starts at right-back with Brad Walker switching from midfield to centre-half to partner Scott Harrison with Amond taking over from Oates up top.

Cheltenham chief, Russell Milton, in charge in place of Gary Johnson who is recovering from heart surgery, named an unchanged team.

Cheltenham: Brown, Winchester, Boyle, Onariase, Davis, Storer, Rowe, Pell, Holman, Wright, Waters.

Subs: Kitscha, Downes, Munns, Dayton, Wootton, O'Shaughnesy, Cranston

Pools: Carson, Richards, Harrison, Walker, Magnay, Featherstone, Woods, Hawkins, Thomas, Alessandra, Amond

Subs: Fryer, Bates, Deverdics, Oates, Rooney, Rodney, Simpson

Referee: Ben Toner