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Time for Pools to end their home misery
IT'S been a while since Hartlepool United played a home game; it's been even longer since they scored at Victoria Park, too distant since they avoided defeat in one and you have to go too far back to find out when they actually won one.
John Hughes hopes to put it right on all four fronts tonight.
Pools' game with Bournemouth is expected to go ahead after the pitch was last night clear of snow.
The Cherries, who lost at Walsall at the weekend - their first defeat in 16 games - are due to fly to the North-East this morning.
Pools last home game was against Preston on January 1, a 1-0 defeat. Their last goal at Victoria Park was on November 20 and Pools have lost their last six in front of their own supporters. You then have to look at October 20 for the last time they took a point at home and go back to early September for their last three-point haul.
It's been a sorry run, but it's one which Hughes feels is nearing an end.
"I just think the boys are realising what we have to do to get three points,'' he insisted. "We are in the right frame of mind. We have a style of play that suits us, even if it's not pleasing on the eye at times.
"A lot of what we do in training is being transferred to the games and that's pleasing. I ask a lot of questions and people tell me that Hartlepool were never the best team, but they worked and never gave up.
"By hook or by crook they dug in and kept going. I've seen that. Results go against us and it's easy to blame that on a bad performance when it's not always the case.
"Preston, we should have got something, Stevenage the same. The boys realise what we have to do to win a match and get three points. It comes by being resolute and by saying by hook or by crook we have to pick a fight.''
Cut off at the foot of the table, Pools go to Portsmouth the team directly above them this weekend.
Even a victory tonight would leave them five points shy of Pompey.
"Our aim right now is win the next match to catch the next team above us,'' said Hughes. "I feel the boys are up for this fight - I might be wrong, but that's how I feel, I really do.
"I can see a change in spirit and in the dressing room. Reasons why could be team selection as they all know what isexpected, down to training, one or two performances from players, results which are lifting - there's a change in the water here I feel it.
"We battle our corner.''
And Hughes, who has led his side to a win and a draw in their last two away games, added: "We have start turning the Vic into a fortress. People say that they used to hate coming to Hartlepool - we need to get back to that.
"We have to be ruthless if anything comes our way, we have to get the job done.
"We've been fighting for our lives, bottom of the table, whipping boys, but I feel it is turning and we have to seize that opportunity when the opposition might not be 100 per cent confident. Be ruthless, get the job done.''
Hughes will stick with the same starting XI tonight as he has for the previous three games.
Pools' home game with Colchester, postponed last weekend, has been rearranged for Tuesday, March 5.