SCOTT Flinders believes Hartlepool United have made a “crazy” start to the season, but he is hoping for a more confident display against Carlisle United tomorrow.
The Pools keeper – who has tried to play down the importance of the bottom-of-the-table match at Victoria Park – has kept three consecutive clean sheets on home soil in recent weeks.
But some disappointing results on the road – including the 5-1 hammering at Northampton and the 2-0 loss at Plymouth – see Pools sitting third bottom in Sky Bet League Two.
Flinders said he was pleased to see his side “stop the rot” with a goalless draw at home to Portsmouth last Saturday.
“It has been a crazy start to the season and we are back on that rollercoaster, so we need to get ourselves back on a level,” Flinders said.
“We cannot play really well against Shrewsbury Town (2-0 win) and then play like we did against Northampton.
“We really need to get a bit of consistency now – we are going into our 11th game of the season and need to start bedding down by being more consistent.
“It was nice last weekend to put the rot of the previous two away games to bed.
“We needed to steady the ship and I thought we did that and had the better chances last weekend.
“It is still early and a couple of wins you can get into mid-table and then progress from there and look into the play-offs.
“But we have to take it game by game and then confidence levels will grow.
“Hopefully you will see a confident display against Carlisle.
“It is a local-ish derby, but, for me, it is still early days.
“I know we are near the bottom of the table, but we are still developing as a team.
“It is a big game, but some people have said it is a six-pointer – it is too early for that.”
What is clear though is the urgent need to address the goalscoring problem with just five league goals scored by Colin Cooper’s side this season.
Flinders said the challenge to the strikers – Jonathan Franks, Marlon Harewood and Charlie Wyke – is to score the goals in order to relieve some of the pressure on the defenders.
Flinders added: “Our challenge now is to keep that back door shut and go and score some goals – goals are what we have been lacking since the start of the season.
“That is the challenge to the forward lads.
“It is a team game, but we need to start scoring to push us further up the table.
“We have had a settled back four and, especially at home, we have defended really well.
“I don’t like talking about clean sheets until the end of the season, but hopefully that continues and we can get score a few goals on top of that.”