October could prove to be a defining month for Hartlepool United’s season, according to boss Matthew Bates.
Pools take on promotion hopefuls Boreham Wood this afternoon at the Super 6 Stadium before a trip to second-placed Leyton Orient next week.
That’s followed by National League encounters with sixth-placed Sutton United and fourth-placed Wrexham before the month is out, without accounting for the club’s FA Cup bow, sandwiched in between.
Bates knows the next few weeks could prove crucial and could make or break his side’s promotion credentials.
“This month is going to be hard,” he said.
“We play four top teams, two home, two away then have a cup game sandwiched in between.
“It is going to be hard to get momentum but we will be taking it game-by-game.
“We want a couple of good results in the next few games. If we get that we will have had a good month.”
Despite winning just one of their last four, Bates retains the belief that his team are having a successful season.
“The first two months were always going to be crucial,” said Bates.
“If someone had offered me this points tally after 14 games I’d have snapped their hands off, especially with a new system, group of players and manager.
“There have been games where we are disappointed to drop points but on a whole we are pleased.
“We have got a good month in terms of midweek games - I don’t think we’ve got one for about a month.
“So we get full weeks on the training pitch to work on things between games.
“We don’t need much fitness work but we can look at what we have seen tactically in the first two months and work on it. All it needs is some fine tweaks.
“Hopefully that will see us improve.”
While home points are the bread and butter for most teams who want to achieve promotion, it is Pools’ away form which has caught the eye.
They have lost just once on the road since March.
“There is a confidence when we go away,” said Bates.
“It is important that we keep getting points away and make sure we improve that ratio with home points.”
It’s the clinical edge that is lacking on home soil though, says Bates, and something his team are keen to put right at the Vic this afternoon.
He said: “We have had some good performances at home this season and I would say we have not had the points we deserve.
“On another day we take more points at home but we haven’t.
“We need to get the monkey off our back and see games out having got two or more goals on the board.”