Matthew Bates makes this bold prediction about Hartlepool United's promotion hopes

Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates.
Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates.

Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates is certain his team will be “there or therabouts” when it comes to the National League promotion race.

Pools were desperately unlucky not to come away from Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground last night with at least a point - that, despite losing skipper Andrew Davies to a red card midway through the first half.

Bates’ men have now played the fifth tier top three all away from home and while they’ve managed just one point, it could have been a whole lot more.

That’s reason to be positive for Bates, who has come in for some criticism from Poolies after the Sutton United loss on Saturday.

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“It doesn’t matter who you are in this game, criticism always comes your way,” he said.

“I don’t expect anything less.

“I know where I think I am as a manager and I know where we are in the league. That’s all that matters.

“And when I look at it, we have lost two games on the bounce but we are only four points outside the play offs.

“This team will be there or thereabouts this season from what I have seen of them.”

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On the Davies red card, which is likely to see the player miss three games, Bates was philosophical.

“It is disappointing but Andrew says the lad stamped on him,” said Bates.

“Heads have come together - I don’t really know what happened.

“I just know Andrew wouldn’t react like that without reason.

“In a way the sending off managed to galvanise us.

“We had chances to win the game at the end but it wasn’t our day. Things did not fall for us.

“It’s in the past now. We dust ourselves off for Bromley and we can take confidence despite the fact we are heading down there on the back of two losses.”