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Walton: Mr Nice Guy never wins
TIME, for Hartlepool United, is running out.
Nine games to go this season and, despite a run of one defeat in ten games, they remain in the League One drop zone.
They are off the bottom, moving over Portsmouth and Bury to 22nd spot. One place and four points ahead of them lie tonight's planned opponents, Oldham Athletic, with Scunthorpe and Colchester two and three further points ahead respectively.
Pools beat The Iron last month, while draw with the Us at home seven days ago.
That point, coupled with the one ground out against Yeovil at the weekend, added to Pools' tally, but also pegged them back.
Those four points dropped are the difference between being able to get out of the bottom four tonight and still having to wait.
Tonight's game is subject to a noon pitch inspection, with the Boundary Park surface hit badly by the freezing conditions.
If it goes ahead, Pools know the importance of this evening. While the Latics have two games in hand, victory would provide a big physiological boost.
Midfielder Simon Walton admitted: "It's the old six-pointer clichÃ©. They have a couple of games in hand so we have to go there and do it. We've beat teams at the top of the league so we go there positive and with plenty of belief and take the bull by the horns.
"It's our livelihoods we are talking about and we won't let anyone take that chance away from us.''
Pools boss John Hughes admitted at the weekend that his half-time talk was pretty much done by his players as they rallied round.
It's a trait Walton feels is essential if Pools are to keep fighting for survival.
"We all had our say at half-time and I think it's been our problem at times that we are a bit too nice to each other,'' he admitted. "We are a great set of lads who get on most of the time, but sometimes you need to have your say.
"It happened at Sheffield United when Sweens (Antony Sweeney) and Sam (Collins) were at each other on the pitch and it spurred everyone on.
"I'm not saying go out there and fight each other, but we know what is at stake, it's our livelihoods and we have to do what it takes to get out of this situation. Mr Nice Guy never wins.''
Walton has been one of Pools' more influential performers of late, sitting in a deep-lying role in front of the back four.
Like the team, his performances in the first-half of the season were below scratch and there's been a big improvement.
"We've done so much to get back into a good position from where we got ourselves in the first place,'' he reflected
"We can't get too down and we are on a good run. We've shown a lot more in previous games recently and we have to get back to that and soon.
"Keep going, and we have to keep that belief. As soon as that belief goes then you are struggling.
"I've said many a time there was no-one more frustrated than me with how the first half of the season went.
"It was only after Christmas when I started to find my feet, settle down and show what I could do. It's nice to be playing well now and getting some man of the match awards, it's frustrating that it's took so long.
"Hopefully I can do my bit to keep us in this division and then really show what we can do in League One next season.''
Hughes has echoed his midfielder's sentiments about showing passion and spirit in the dressing room and on the pitch and admits: "We'll just keep chipping away at it.
"I'd like to think we're at the stage now that we'll always be in a game giving ourselves a chance.
"The boys need to pick themselves up and be ready for Tuesday - they need to have a 'cup final' mindset for that game, if not then don't put the strip on.
"If you're not excited then don't put the strip on.
"We need the eye of the tiger - we need everyone from now until the end of the season to be right at it.
"They need to go out there and be angry and go at it.''
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