‘They should be up there’ – Dave Challinor hoping to continue contrasting form for Hartlepool United and Joey Barton's Bristol Rovers

Hartlepool United will be looking to continue their fine start to the season at Victoria Park this Saturday as they host Bristol Rovers (3pm kick-off).

Friday, 10th September 2021, 4:45 pm

Pools have the best home form in the country having won 17 of their last 19 league matches at The Vic. They host a Rovers side who are suffering from a difficult away spell having failed to win in each of their last 19 games on the road, a run stretching back to last December.

After being relegated to League Two, The Gas have won two of their opening six matches in the fourth tier and currently sit 16th in the table. Meanwhile Pools sit seventh with all three of their wins unsurprisingly coming on home soil.

All runs, good or bad, must end at some point. And Pools boss Dave Challinor is hoping his side can carry their run going this weekend.

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Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton makes a point to 4th official Carl Boyeson during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Bristol Rovers at PTS Academy Stadium on April 10, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

“They're a team who have been relegated and come down into the division as a big club expected to bounce straight back,” he said.

"But there has been a lot of change there and sometimes that takes time to settle down and progress. They come into the game on the back of a win which will help them.

"But we're playing well, we're in a good run of form where we've made The Vic a difficult place to come and we want to keep that.

"We expect a tough game against a squad that will be expecting to compete for promotion.

“Football isn't played on paper but looking at their squad and which players they signed over the summer but they should be up there come the end of the season.

"You need time to settle and you get reinforcement with results which is something they haven't had consistently enough so far.

“When you're a team who is relegated, you have the wrong type of momentum which they have to stop. As a promoted team, we've carried momentum forward and kept that going and we've got to take advantage of that as best we can.

"This weekend is an opportunity to build on a fantastic home record for us and give the supporters something to go away happy with.”

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Saturday will be the first time Challinor has locked horns with Rovers boss Joey Barton in a competitive fixture.

“I don't know Joey well but I've spoken to him through other people,” added the Hartlepool manager. “He was at Fleetwood when I was at Fylde who are two clubs close to one another.

"Clint Hill was someone who was in there and was someone who I played with and was Joey's teammate for a long time.

"Andy Mangan is in there who I've worked with before at different clubs. They're massively competitive, really detailed and did really well at Fleetwood.

"Then they've gone in at Bristol hoping to keep them in League One last season but they've had to rebuild and try to get out of this division.

"I know what they're all about and I'm sure after the game we'll have a drink and reminisce with some stories and stuff as you do with all the managers.

"We'll want to win and regardless of who is in the opposite dugout, you want to beat them.”

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