Here's how Hartlepool United can guarantee a National League play-off place regardless of Saturday's result against Maidenhead United
Hartlepool United’s place in the National League play-offs is almost guaranteed, almost.
Pools currently sit fourth in the table on 70 points and have been in the play-off places for the majority of the 2020-21 season.
Dave Challinor’s side still remain within a shot of the league title, six points behind leaders Torquay with four games remaining. Unlikely, but still possible.
What is even more unlikely is Pools slipping out of the play-off places altogether. Fortunately that’s something that can be secured when they face Maidenhead United at Victoria Park this Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The Pools boss feels his side have already done enough to compete in the play-offs come June. “Mathematically it would put us in the play-offs but I think with the points we’ve got now I think if my calculations are anything to go by, I’d say we’ve already got should be enough,” he told The Mail.
And he’s almost definitely right – here’s why…
If Hartlepool beat Maidenhead
Victory for Pools on Saturday would mathematically guarantee a top seven place as it would take them to 73 points leaving only Halifax Town and Notts County able to hypothetically overtake them by winning all of their remaining games.
Even in that unlikely scenario, the lowest Pools could finish would be sixth.
If Hartlepool draw
Even a draw will be enough to secure a play-off place this weekend. It would take Pools to 71 points which should merit a top seven finish for Pools due to guaranteed dropped points elsewhere with several of the sides below them in the table playing each other.
It would be possible for Hartlepool to miss out on the play-offs with 71 points but it would come down to goal difference, where they currently hold a clear advantage on the sides below them.
If Hartlepool lose
At this point, Pools become dependent on results elsewhere.
In order for Hartlepool to guarantee a top seven finish this weekend on their current points total of 70, both Chesterfield (9th) and Eastleigh (10th) would have to fail to win at Woking and Altrincham respectively.
Additionally, Bromley (7th) would also have to lose at Torquay United. This is due to Bromley still having to play Notts County (8th) twice and would be required to win both games in order to catch Pools.
Even if Bromley were successful, it would then leave the Magpies unable to catch Dave Challinor’s side.
Pools will be competing in the National League play-offs this season. The only thing preventing them from doing that would be winning the National League outright, which would undoubtedly be the preferred outcome.
Realistically, Pools’ target has to be securing a top three place and a home play-off semi-final.
“It’s about getting in that top three,” Challinor admitted. “Ideally, try and finish number one.
"That’s out of our control a little bit but with 12 points to play for, all we can do is pick up those 12 points and see where it takes us.
"If we do that then I’m sure we’ll be in the top three and have one home play-off game to potentially go into a play-off final which at the start of the season and even now we’d love to have so hopefully, if we can’t win the league, that will be the case.”