Hectic schedule holds no fear for Hartlepool boss

Hartlepool caretaker manager Matthew Bates during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Boreham Wood at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 10th March 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press)
Hartlepool caretaker manager Matthew Bates during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Boreham Wood at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 10th March 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press)

Hartlepool United have nothing to fear from a daunting-looking end to the month – that’s the view of caretaker Matthew Bates.

Today’s trip to AFC Fylde is the start of a run of fixtures which could define where Pools end up in the National League table come the end of the campaign.

A relegation six-pointer at Barrow then follows on Wednesday, before a free weekend after Bromley’s win over Spennymoor in the FA Trophy in midweek meant the Ravens’ visit to Victoria Park, originally scheduled for March 24, was postponed.

That was quickly rescheduled for Tuesday, March 27, meaning Pools face a tricky three games in six days.

Three days after the Bromley clash, Bates must take his side to Maidstone on Good Friday at the end of the month, followed by a return to the Vic to face Guiseley in another must-win game on Easter Monday.

But Bates thinks rather than be fearful of the tests ahead, his players should relish it.

“It’s about what we do, everyone can beat everyone on their day,” he said.

“We will try and impose our game on every team. Results weren’t great last two games, but the performances were good.

“It’s three games to target and three games to look to getting points on the board.

“We go to Barrow next week and we want to go there on a back of a win today.

“There’s a lot of games coming up against teams in and around us – like Barrow – and a win this weekend could give us some breathing space, that’s what we are working towards.”

Pools, who travel to AFC Fylde today, have a very busy final six weeks of the season with 10 league games still to be played.

Pools are 19th in the National League with 38 points, three points and two places above the drop zone.

Financially the Bromley call off was a blow for the cash-strapped club.

Despite crowds being on the decline the club still make a small profit from games at Victoria Park.

And with things so tight off the field a home game on a Saturday would have been a welcome boost as crowds are generally bigger for weekend games than in midweek.

For Bates, though, in selection terms he sees it as a blessing in disguise, especially with Liam Donnelly’s recent call-up to the Northern Ireland under-21 squad.

“We have Liam Donnelly away next week and now he misses only one game,” said Bates.

“We need all the players we have in the squad.”

On this afternoon’s game, Bates is confident his players can produce after improved shows of late – that despite the fact Fylde hammered Aldershot 7-1 last time out on home turf.

“Fylde had a big win last week,” said Bates.

“They have been in good form and beating Aldershot 7-1 shows it. Danny Rowe has scored a lot of goals and we have to be aware of him. He was a threat when we played them at our place early in the season and we have been working on a game plan to keep him quiet.

“But we are confident after last weekend’s performance.

“Last week was big in terms of confidence for the lads. It would have been a backward step if we had conceded late on last weekend, but we kept them out and defended well. It’s great for the squad and we have to carry on doing what we are.”