Double joy for Hartlepool as Mick Wadsworth and Sam Collins win league awards

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MICK Wadsworth will call on his players to repay the Pools faithful with victory when they take on bottom club Dagenham and Redbridge tomorrow.

The travelling band of die-hards have witnessed successive defeats, at Notts County and Watford, during both of their away-day outings so far this year.

More than 800 fans made the 500-mile round trip to Hertfordshire for last weekend’s FA Cup third-round exit at the hands of Championship side Watford.

That came on the back of the Bank Holiday jaunt to Nottingham where Wadsworth’s boys slipped to their first defeat in six matches.

But now the Pools boss says his men – who had won five on the spin prior to the Meadow Lane reverse – have the ideal chance to get back on the winning trail and thank their support for the New Year backing in tomorrow’s home clash.

“We need to repay the fans on Saturday,” said Wadsworth, who will be without Sam Collins (knee) and Denis Behan (hamstring) tomorrow.

“They were fantastic at Watford and it’s a long way to go. We have to get three points and get back on that league trail because we’ve got a fantastic chance to do something special this season.”

Indeed, Pools remain just two points outside the play-off places and a maximum return against The Daggers will reignite their promotion push.

That there is even talk of promotion serves to highlight the extent of the turnaround under Wadsworth’s stewardship, which was marked yesterday with the December manager of the month award.

Collins also won the League One player of the month award to complete a welcome double for the club.

“The fans have been great with us all season and they’ve been great with me,” said Wadsworth. “I thank them for that because they’ve shown some patience early on when we were winning one and losing one and had a couple of howlers at home.

“But they’re not daft this crowd, they see what we’re trying to do and, for a coach, it’s gratifying when they stick with you and hopefully we can keep improving.

“We want to give the fans something to be proud of and something to shout about and recently we’ve done very well. It’s about picking that run back up now and nothing less than a win will do on Saturday.”

The reverse fixture at Victoria Road in October ended in honours even after Peter Hartley put through his own net only for Daggers defender Mark Arber to suffer similar ignominy in stoppage time.

John Still’s side are eight points adrift of safety but enjoyed a 2-0 victory in their last away outing at Carlisle. And Wadsworth is refusing to underestimate the Londoners.

“We played down there and it was a real tough game,” he said, “It was a physical game and they play in a way that puts you under real pressure with many high balls.

“They’ve got big players and with not having Sam (Collins) in the team I’ve got to think very hard how we’re going to deal with that and impose our way of playing on them. But I thought we did enough to win the game down there and battered them in the second half.”