Crawley Town next in Hartlepool United sights says Craig Hignett
Craig Hignett hopes Hartlepool United can keep climbing the League Two table.
Pools have made remarkable progress up the division, rising from a perilous 22nd position to the more comfortable 17th spot.
Having been only two points above the relegation zone following the 4-1 thrashing at Bristol Rovers, Pools went into the first weekend of April 14 points clear of danger.
Hignett has insisted he has never looked over his shoulder and continues to look upwards – Crawley, in 16th, are the next target in his sights.
“I want to catch Crawley – they are five points above us with nine matches left,” he said.“Once we catch them, then we’ll look to get to the next team, see how high we can get.
“We’ll always have goals.”
The only goal the majority of fans had was to survive after witnessing the team slide down the table, the season after the Great Escape.
And while Hignett was always optimistic, reaching safety has happened ahead of schedule.
“If someone said you’d be safe with nine games to go, I’d have taken that all day long,” he explained.
“Overall, I’m absolutely delighted. It’s been better than I thought it was going to be, the turnaround has come quicker.
“We must now find more aims to hit.
“At one point, it looked like it was going to go down to the wire, but I’m so happy with how the players have responded to how I’ve wanted them to play.
“They have a really good understanding of the system and it’s difficult to play against as it’s proving.
“There is a real feel-good factor about the place and players are enjoying what they are doing.
“Some of the players performances have been out of this world.”
Hignett has been adamant from the outset of his desire to play entertaining footy.
When he took charge, Pools were the division’s lowest scorers and that’s a situation he has remedied.
But it has been the miserly attitude in defence which has made the headlines – Pools reeling off four clean sheets in succession.
Hignett still says goals and excitement are his priorities but accepts that defensive strength has proven crucial.
“I don’t necessarily want to be seen as building from the back,” he said.
“I want us to be hard to beat, but the thing I want most is to play attacking football – I want us to go forward and score goals.
“Sometimes it is hard to do that and we’ve had a couple of off-days with the ball.
“But if we are having one of those days then it’s important to keep our shape and discipline.
“That will make us hard to play against and it will keep us in games.
“That’s been the message since the Bristol game.
“I’ve said it before, but if the Notts County and Luton games [both single-goal late defeats] were now, we would not lose them, we’d pick up something.”