MICK Wadsworth insists Hartlepool United still have plenty to play for in tomorrow’s League One curtain call at Charlton Athletic.
Victory over The Addicks could see Pools climb five places to 13th, leapfrogging their opponents in the process.
And that is why Wadsworth is adamant that his players won’t be enjoying an end-of-season stroll in the South London sunshine.
“It’s a big, big game so we’re putting a lot of attention into it,” insisted the first-team coach ahead of the trip to The Valley.
“It’s not ‘let’s get this out of the way and then it’s holiday time’. Far from it.
“You always want to finish on a high and it would be a great scalp to beat a club like Charlton twice in a season. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this game and a lot still riding on it.
“It’s not often at any stage in the season you can climb five places, let alone on the last day.
“That being the case we’ll pick as strong a team as we can on the day and will be going for the win.”
Regardless of the outcome, there is no doubting the success of a campaign which saw League One safety all but assured with six games remaining – a stark contrast to last season’s final-day escape act at Brentford.
And Wadsworth, on reflection, is pleased to have avoided such a nerve-racking finale.
“We achieved the most important target, which was to stay in this league,” he said.
“Obviously as a coach I would have liked to have done better and I’m sure all of the players would have done. But when I balance it out I think we’ve come a long way since the start of the season.
“We were favourites to go down. Some people might have even taken a scenario where we still had a chance of staying up going into the final game.
“So to achieve our safety so early was very pleasing and testament to the progress we have made as a team this season.”
Wadsworth’s boys go into the game on the back of last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Bournemouth, achieved in dramatic fashion thanks to goalkeeper Scott Flinders’ injury-time header.
Trailing by two at the break, Pools were given a verbal lashing by the boss before clawing themselves back into the game.
And Wadsworth believes that second-half turnaround has left his players in a positive frame of mind ahead of the trip to the capital.
“The second half performance gave everyone a lift,” he said. “We played with terrific enthusiasm and intensity and turned the whole thing around and probably deserved to get a result – even if Scott had not come up with the miracle goal!
“But it’s left the lads in a good mood this week and we’re all looking forward to what should be a good game against a good side at a very nice stadium.”