HARTLEPOOL United have been a revelation at home – and Craig Hignett does not want to see them take a step backwards.
Over the last nine weeks, Pools have put together a five-match unbeaten Sky Bet League Two run at Victoria Park where, tomorrow, they host high-flying Burton Albion (kick-off 3pm).
Pools have won four and drawn one in that sequence, a far cry from not only the early weeks of the season, but the last two years.
With two away games to come at promotion-chasing clubs over the festive period – Chesterfield on Boxing Day and Morecambe on December 29 – it’s crucial Pools pick up a point or three tomorrow against the Brewers.
“Can we end the year on a winning note at home?” said assistant boss Hignett.
“We hope so. The home form has turned around slowly and, no disrespect to anyone, but the fans haven’t had a lot to shout about.
“The atmosphere is much better at home games now, the fans are looking forward to coming here and getting behind the lads.
“The team are putting in 100 per cent and it’s being appreciated by the supporters.
“That’s all we can ask of the players.
“Since day one, we asked for everything and they’ve given us that.
“There have been some games when we haven’t been at the races, but it’s not for the want of trying.
“We said to them the other night that we are proud of the effort they have all put in since we came to the club.
“Hopefully it will continue and then results will follow.”
Tomorrow’s visit of sixth-placed Albion is a tough one, though Pools are eager to bounce back from Tuesday night’s agonising FA Cup replay defeat, the same evening Burton reached round three with a 1-0 win over Morecambe.
Burton are one of three clubs on 34 points and are only three points adrift of leaders Oxford United.
But, for all their excellent position, they are unlikely to be giving Pools any sleepless nights.
The Brewers are unbeaten in six league and FA Cup games – four 1-0 wins and two 1-1 draws.
Hignett, though, is full of respect for Gary Rowett and his team.
“Burton are going really well,” said the 43-year-old.
“We have watched them a few times and they are organised.
“Cheltenham were unbeaten in eight when we went there and Burton are unbeaten in six.
“The league is like that, with teams putting runs together.
“Burton have won more than Cheltenham in their little run so are in a good position.
“But we are at the Vic, where we have been doing well the last couple of months.
“It’s one we look forward to and the lads want to take some of their frustration out from the other night.
“Every week throws it’s own challenges.
“We played last week against a quick wide man, physical front man – different challenges all the time and we know what to expect, we will work on dealing with it and countering it.”