‘We will have blips’ - Matthew Bates wants Pools to stay grounded in National League promotion quest

Matthew Bates is targeting a run of home wins.
Matthew Bates is targeting a run of home wins.

Matthew Bates admits there will “blips” in Hartlepool United’s bid to return to the Football League.

Pools squad and manager have admitted of late their aim to win promotion from the National League, despite keeping a lid on their expectations in the summer.

And, to be fair, performances have backed that up with just one loss in the opening 11 fifth tier games, and Pools now unbeaten in eight, without a loss since August 11.

Bates knows that things will not always be this good, though.

He understands that Pools will lose games and have winless runs at some stage this season - and he hopes fans and his squad can keep their cool when the chips are inevitably down.

Ahead of this weekend’s trip to 10th placed Halifax Town, Bates said: “We have two tough games, two away games but we are on a fantastic run. Eight games unbeaten, one defeat and not lost away from home since the start of March.

“That is a proud record and one we want to continue.

“But this is a hard league, we will have blips. There will be periods where we have a few games without a win.

“It is about being consistent and how we react to that.

“If we keep up what we are doing we will be there or thereabouts.”

Pools’ next two represents their toughest test to date at this level.

In the space of four days they take on two promotions rivals in the Shaymen and Salford City, both away from home.

Bates knows this will be a barometer of his team’s progress to date.

“I have respect for every team at this level - it is a hard, hard league,” he said.

“Every team, on their day, are a good side.

“They have had a blip but are a good side.

“We go there, show them respect, but concentrate on ourselves. We know if we are at our best, we beat them.

“They got points on the board early, we have done it the other way.

“We are expecting it to be a tough game at their place - they have a very good record at home. That reflects in where they are at in the league.”

Pools will have to do without Luke Williams again this weekend, though, with the midfielder still lacking fitness after a knock last week.

“He is OK. He is fine but got a kick last week. He is unlikely to be involved this weekend,” said the manager.

“He is not training today (Thursday) but we will see tomorrow (Friday).

“It is probably going to come too soon.

“It is frustrating for me but more so for the lad.

“He has come here with an illness, then had a kick - that’s football, though. I think I can safely say that given the injuries I had as a player.

“We have not missed him because of the results. We will give him time and I’m sure he will be back soon enough.”