Relegation battle, what relegation battle?
That was the message from Craig Hignett who tomorrow will look to add more distance between Hartlepool United and the Football League’s bottom two.
Pools clinched a crucial 3-1 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge at Victoria Park to move nine points clear of the seemingly-doomed London club and seven points above York City.
With Hignett taking his side to Newport County tomorrow night for the first of three games in hand on the bottom two, the manager’s desire to look up the table rather than down it, has been justified.
“What battle?” smiled Hignett when asked if Pools were winning the battle for survival.
“I’ve always been looking up, I’m not bothered about what’s below us. What I’ve seen of us, I’m confident.
“I always have been since day one and given a bit of time they will be all right.
“I’m not saying we are going to be world-beaters but I don’t think we are not far away from being a really good side in this division “From what I’ve seen over the weeks, I have been here has confirmed that.”
Pools – who had Billy Paynter, Jake Carroll and Jake Gray on target against the Daggers – can move above Stevenage with a draw at Rodney Parade tomorrow night, while a win would move them to within a point of Yeovil in 20th and three shy of the Welsh outfit, who are 18th after Saturday’s victory at Portsmouth.
“The amount of points we have, I’m looking at the next team above us,” said Hignett.
“We’ve just caught Stevenage, above them it’s Yeovil, who are on a decent run.
“I think from now until the end of the season if we keep playing as we are now then we’ll win more matches than a lot of teams near the bottom.”
For all Hignett’s optimism, he admitted he was not totally blind to the threat of the drop.
But he said as soon as he’d seen his players on the training ground he knew he had talent to work with. He said: “I was confident once we got them organised and playing the way I want them too that we’d be alright. We could have scored or three every game and we are now winning.”
Hartlepool Utd: Carson, Magnay, Rob Jones (Jackson 46), Bates, Carroll, James, Hawkins, Gray (Bingham 82), Featherstone (Walker 74), Thomas, Paynter. Subs not used: Bartlett, Woods, Oates, Richards. Goals: Paynter 4 pen, Carroll 14, Gray 53.
Dag & Red: O’Brien, Hoyte, Dikamona, Worrall, Widdowson, Passley, Boucaud (Cureton 67), Muldoon, Hemmings (Chambers 60), Cash, Doidge (Hawkins 56). Subs not used: McClure, Jones, Shepherd, Cousins. Booked: Doidge. Goal: Cash 33.
Att: 3,947. Ref: Christopher Sarginson (Staffs)