Less could be more for Hartlepool United this season. Craig Harrison takes his side to Boreham Wood today for a game in the tightest of divisions.
The National League leaders, Dover, are six points in front of Pools who are in 12th spot, a point from the play-off zone in a group of eight teams separated by only three points.
And while Pools have been playing catch-up following a terrible start to the season – they went six games without victory – they are still right in contention to achieve their aims.
Promotion is Harrison’s target and the tight nature of the division means his pre-season points target has been adjusted.
Gone is the two point a game plan, and now a lesser average should see the promoted teams go up with less than the regular winning tally.
“I’ve not known anything like this,” reflected Harrison, who turned 40 yesterday. “If you like this time last year, or the year before, there is always one team who has pulled away.
“It was Lincoln, Cheltenham the year before.
“In the immediate past there has not been a situation where there could be one of 10 teams who could be getting promoted, or in the fight to win the league.
“It is great for us in one way, after the start we had, but in another sense we want to be at the top of the pack.”
Pools have lost one National League game in 12 since their rotten start and Harrison added: “After the Guiseley game we must be in the top two or three form teams in the league.
“What’s important now is making sure we keep that form going, picking up points where we can. We need to stay in the fight for as long as we can and then in the end we will have the chance to make a real run for it.
“The important thing is that we are in and amongst the pack.”
Today’s opponents beat Blackpool last weekend in the FA Cup, as Pools lost at Morecambe.
Pools have four games this month in the National League – two home, two away – and Harrison wants a minimum nine-point return.
That should, he feels, be enough to get them in the top four.
“Individual clubs have surprised me this season, but the league has not,” he added. “Some teams have done better than I’d imagined, some have done worse.
“It is not fair for me to say which teams they are. There are probably managers who look at us and think we’ve underperformed.
“It’s true, we should have done better. It is a consistency thing.
“I thought you would need two points a game to get yourself promoted.
“As things stand it looks like it is going to take any team around 1.7 or 1.8. As we are we are not a million miles away from that.
“What we need to do is keep our consistency and keep picking up points to stay in the race.”
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