‘They’re still in with a shot’ – Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor assesses Maidenhead United's play-off hopes
Hartlepool United host Maidenhead United in the National League on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).
Pools are looking to bounce back from a bank holiday Monday defeat at Bromley, the side’s first defeat in 17 games, when they host The Magpies at Victoria Park this weekend.
Dave Challinor’s side have won 12 and drawn one of their last 13 games at The Vic – an impressive unbeaten run stretching back almost five months as they boast the best home record in the division.
Meanwhile Maidenhead, who were beaten 4-0 when the sides last met back in October, have enjoyed a fairly solid campaign after a difficult start.
“It's probably a team who are a lot more confident than what they were at the start of the season,” Challinor said.
“Going back to that game at Maidenhead, we were 1-0 up at half time with an own goal but weren't at the races and should have been behind but ended up winning 4-0.
"It was a little bit like Monday when we were poor in the first half but the goal went against us rather than for us. At Maidenhead we took advantage of scoring at the right times by scoring just before and just after half-time.
"From that point on we looked like scoring every time we went forward. Maidenhead lost their first four and looked doomed and I remember speaking to Alan [Devonshire] after the game and they deserved more than what they got that day and what they have done this season is maybe surprised a few.
"They’ve got a group of players who know what their strengths and weaknesses are and they don’t hide behind anything they’re not. They’re a hard working honest group with goalscorers in the team.
"They have all the things that can send you on your way. Of all the teams up near the top or with a play-off opportunity, they’re the ones that have probably overachieved this season because they’ve given themselves a shot.
"They’ve picked up results on their travels at difficult places to go so we’re under no illusions that it will be a really though game.”
Alan Devonshire’s side sit 12th in the table, nine points off the play-offs but still with seven games left to play, more than any other side.
“They’re absolutely still in with a shot [of the play-offs],” Challinor told The Mail.
"They’re a little bit different where they’ve got their run at the back end of the season and play pretty much every Tuesday between now and the end of the season.
"It’s a tough ask for them but they’ve got themselves in a really good position and given themselves a chance considering the start they had to the season.
They’ll come here and absolutely fancy themselves to get something.
"They’ve come away from home and picked up significant results at places that they’d perhaps not be fancied but I’m sure they’ll fancy themselves this weekend.
"But we’re looking forward to it and go into it full of confidence, forget about Monday’s result because we’re on the back of a brilliant run at home in terms of our last 13 games.”