‘We’re more of a team’ – Dave Challinor draws comparisons between Hartlepool United and his previous play-off challenging squad at AFC Fylde

Dave Challinor is preparing for his third play-off campaign in three full seasons as a National League manager.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 12:30 pm

The Hartlepool United boss has helped lead a play-off charge this season with the side currently sitting second in the National League table.

While winning the league outright or even finishing outside the top seven isn’t impossible, it is looking increasingly likely that Hartlepool’s season will be decided by the play-offs for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Pools were denied a place in the Championship as a late red card and penalty saw Sheffield Wednesday force extra-time before going on to win 4-2 at the Millennium Stadium.

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Dave Challinor while at AFC Fylde (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Dave Challinor while at AFC Fylde (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

For Challinor, his two full fifth tier seasons with AFC Fylde in 2017-18 and 2018-19 yielded 7th and 5th placed finishes respectively.

Both campaigns ended in play-off heartbreak for The Coasters with a 2-1 play-off eliminator defeat at Boreham Wood in their first National League campaign before they were denied a place in the Football League by a 3-0 play-off final defeat against Salford City at Wembley Stadium the following season.

So the Pools boss has some unfinished business as far as the play-offs go. But he has drawn comparisons to his play-off challenging side at Fylde and his current crop of players at Hartlepool.

“Both teams are pretty comparable because we’re up where we are in the table for a reason,” Challinor told The Mail.

"We have had to tweak our style coming here slightly from Fylde. Here, with Luke [Armstrong] coming in, we have that goalscorer which is something we had with Rowey [Danny Rowe] at Fylde over those two seasons.”

There are also some key differences between the sides with Challinor suggesting his current Pools group are ‘more of a team’ than his Fylde squad.

"The potential differences between us now and the Fylde team we had is maybe the amount of individual match winners we had at Fylde whereas here, we’re more of a team,” he added.

"We don’t rely on one player, we rely on all of our units working together and all of those cogs moving in order to get the best out of what we’ve got.

"We don’t have too many players who can win us the game with one moment of individual brilliance if you like.

"We have got a really solid group of hard working lads who have more ability than they’re given credit for. Sometimes you can overlook that in terms of what we’ve done this season and we’ve won games in different ways.

"I think individually and collectively they’ve grown over the course of the season and winning games gives you belief and reinforcement that you’re doing things the right way.

He added: “[Behind the scenes] it’s very different to how things are run compared to my previous club.

"From our perspective, it’s about us being trusted to get on with things but knowing that if we need something then I can make a phone call and the chairman [Raj Singh] is understanding with what we need.”

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