Matthew Bates hopes Hartlepool United’s fans stick with their side from first whistle to last this evening.
Pools tackle Doncaster Rovers in a game which will go a long way in deciding the club’s Football League future (kick-off 5.30pm).
Bates’s side can’t afford anything less than a victory at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium and pray that Newport can’t beat Notts County at home.
The mood at the last match at the Vic turned toxic as Pools slid to a 2-0 defeat to Barnet, but Bates says a huge and united crowd could make the difference
“That’s the message to the fans, with he numbers coming they can be the 12th man,” he said. “I’m sure they will be brilliant.
“The Barnet game? They had things on their mind about the boss and chairman.
“I can understand all that, the only problem they have now is with the players!
“I hope they can get behind the lads for one last push and see if we can all do it.”
Bates had his tongue slightly in his cheek with his quip about the players.
Last week at Cheltenham, the 704 away fans backed the team throughout, even when things were not going the team’s way.
There will be over 6,000 Poolies packed into the Vic at tea-time and Bates says while it may be difficult, he hopes the supporters do not lose faith.
It could come a stage that Pools are locked at 0-0 going late into the game with Newport and Notts County also level, a scoreline which would relegate the club if it became a result.
“I understand it could be difficult,” explained Bates.
“It would be great if we were winning and the other result was going in our favour, but we just don’t know.
“One thing I will say is that I’ve played in games where something has changed in a split second and it could here.
“We could score and Newport could be behind, so let’s try to stay positive, stick together.”
The sacking of boss Dave Jones, the resignation of chairman Gary Coxall and the change in mood in the team under Bates, Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher should ensure there are no issues with the crowd.
Bates says the bench will keep tabs on what is happening 280 miles away in South Wales.
“We knew what was going on last week,” he said, “We had to keep in touch with Newport’s score as it would affect how we would play.
“But we have to win tonight, it’s as simple as that and I’m sure the fans will let us know what is going on at Newport.
“We know we have to win, that’s all we can do, and hope Notts County get a result at Newport.”
Bates, and his right-hand men, face a couple of selection posers this evening.
Liam Donnelly is available after serving a two-match ban and comes into contention at right-back, where Jordan Richards made a fine return after a 15-week absence after Bates brought him back from his loan spell at Alfreton.
“We felt bringing him back last week was the right thing,” said the manager. “We know how much the club means to him.
“He gave us everything and we know how vital he can be.”
The other quandary is in attack where Nathan Thomas has a niggling knee problem, with Rhys Oates a possible starter.