RITCHIE Humphreys admits Hartlepool United were “unrecognisable” at Sheffield United last weekend – but says that is the standard towards which they must strive in 2013.
The 35-year-old was on target during the 3-2 win which ended a 22-match run without victory.
However, three days later, at home to Preston North End, Pools reverted to the sort of form which sees them rock bottom of League One entering the second half of the campaign.
Beaten 1-0 by Graham Westley’s fellow strugglers, Humphreys and co struggled to replicate their Bramall Lane heroics.
But with that performance still fresh in the memory, the club captain says there is reason for optimism heading in to the new year.
“That performance (at Sheffield United) was unrecognisable from some of the previous games,” the in-form Humphreys told SportMail.
“In the situation we are in we have to hope to cause upsets, use the situation to galvanise us.
“We only had nine points at Christmas and people were writing us off – we have to use that as a tool to get motivated.
“There’s a chance we can stay up, it’s going to be tough but we have to believe after winning at the league leaders.
“You always have a chance.
“Yes, confidence has been affected by results, but it was great to see the lads smiling again and patting each other on the back last weekend.
“We have to remember that and find that again and again.
“We have to get out of this situation we are in.”
Pools are not in action this weekend as a result of their early FA Cup exit.
They return with a trip to Shrewsbury Town a week tomorrow, and Humphreys says they have set the blueprint for away performances.
“We showed a bit of everything at Sheffield – we fought for each other but had quality at key times as well,” he said.
“We were resilient, got blocks and tackles in and threw our bodies in the way.
“That’s the sort of spirit we have to produce every week.
“But the quality of the crosses and finishing at the other end was the best it’s been.
“We have to prove that performance was no one-off.”