This weekend is the biggest in Hartlepool United’s National League season to date with a crunch tie against league leaders Sutton United.

The game represents the chance to spoil Sutton’s potential promotion party in the game where, if results go there way on Saturday, they can lift the title on Sunday.

Dave Challinor’s side have ambitions of there own to finish in the top three which would ensure one less game to be played in the play-offs. They sit level on points with 3rd placed Stockport after their 2-2 draw last weekend with Torquay United, but behind them on goal difference.

With Sutton four points away from the Football League, Pools will also be looking to complete the double over them on Sunday having sealed a 1-0 win over Matt Gray’s side at Victoria Park in January.

It will be the first time Pools have competed in front of fans with home supporters allowed back through the turnstiles at Gander Green Lane.

Sutton’s home pitch also brings the challenge of a 3G surface which Football League clubs aren’t permitted to have.

“I think sometimes you look at 3G pitches and expect the game to be played in a certain way because it’s flat.

“What you do find is that they’re quick pitches and technically you’ve got to be bang on it.

“It’s something you have to adapt to and something you have to deal with.

“Sutton are really consistent. You pretty much know what you’re going to get from them.

“It’s there title to lose now and they’ll back themselves to pick up the remaining points that will see them lift the title.”

Pools had lost back to back games heading into last weekend’s game away to Aldershot as they let the chase for the National League title slip away from them but a top seven finish was secured.

The final is due to be played on Sunday 20th June at Ashton Gate. By the end of the season, Pools will know their opponents and how many play-off games they will play.

For the Pools boss, he says the squad are prepared for the mental challenge of the play-offs.

“We spoke to the players before Saturday’s game and said over the course of 42 games, the better teams finish at the top of the league” said Challinor.

“The teams that get out of the league have to have things go in there favour but ultimately it’s the team that best deals with the situation.

“The ones that deal with the games with more meaning are the ones that are going to progress forward.

“All the work that we’ve done puts you in a position where you trust in the processes you go through to try and get results.

“What you know is that those processes are going to be challenged in a different environment and what we don’t want to do is go away from that all of a sudden.

“The players that we have, they’ve shown that they can win games by playing how we want to play. We’ll take risks, and we’ll play out from the back and look to play through people.

“There’s risk in what we do but its risk-reward and we’ll make sure we try to get the rewards from it by playing in the way that we want to play because that’s what’s built our success throughout the season.”

Challinor has had experience of the National League play-offs with his former side AFC Fylde where his side finished 5th in the league.

He took his side to Wembley after victories against Harrogate Town in the quarter final and Solihull Moors in the semis.

They would eventually lose 3-0 to Salford City in the final.

When Challinor was asked whether he harps back to those experiences, he said “I think you do personally.

“You try and instil things that maybe you’ve learnt, not just over the few years, the previous ten years of play-off campaigns.

“You use all the experience you’ve got to assist the situation you’re in and put the players in best place to be able to deal with that.

“These are circumstances that our squad have not dealt with and certainly not in the recent past.

“But we have enough experience and enough quality where we know we can come out of the situation on top.

“It’s about doing that under pressure. I’m confident in what we’ve got and the group has a really good chance of being successful.”

Pools face Sutton United at Gander Green Lane tomorrow afternoon for a 12:45pm kick off.