Hartlepool United kick off ‘one of the most critical weeks’ the club has faced when they take on Stevenage tonight (kick-off 7.45pm), writes Roy Kelly.
It is the first of three vital Victoria Park matches in the next eight days for Pools.
We probably need to take at least seven points.
Boss Ronnie Moore knows wins over Stevenage, Yeovil and Notts County will not guarantee League Two safety, but it could go a long way to achieving that.
Pools won’t have a better chance, on paper, at least.
Stevenage are managerless and on a run of eight matches without a win, while Yeovil are only one place above Pools and Notts County just five.
“It could be one of the most critical weeks the club has had,” Moore said.
“We have three home games in a row and we’ll be going out to win them.
“It’s not an easy run, but where are the easy games?
“We probably need to take at least seven points.
“A nine-point maximum would be brilliant, but if we don’t do well then we’ll have dropped ourselves in it.”
Moore re-iterated the message he made ahead of the trip to Notts County at the weekend which was washed out after heavy rain.
The Pools boss simply want his team to go out and play football – and believe in themselves.
“I don’t want us to feel any pressure,” he explained.
“I just want us to go out and play and enjoy it – I know that on our day we can beat anyone.
“This is our season coming up – we’re playing teams in and around us at the Vic and we have to go and win them but we need to be positive.”
Pools struggled in their last home match – a 2-0 defeat to Exeter City.
The struggle was not to apply pressure, their problem was getting shots or headers on goal.
Moore will look to Nathan Thomas on the left and Lewis Hawkins and Jordan Richards down the right to feed the supply route to the strikers.
The Pools boss is likely to favour a Billy Paynter-Luke James front pairing though Scott Fenwick could be challenging for the principal forward role.
James is an almost certain starter as he makes his first appearance at the Vic since August 2014.