WHEN Richie Barker moved to Hartlepool United in January, his aim was clear.

The striker moved from Mansfield and was targeting something to celebrate come May.

Those celebrations could arrive this afternoon, as Pools look to make mathematically certain of going up a division when they face Wycombe.

Monday's win over Accrington put Pools 12 points ahead of MK Dons with 12 to play for - but a far superior goal difference makes the hopes of the fourth-placed side almost academic.

Darlington would secure promotion for Pools this afternoon by taking a point from MK Dons at the National Hockey Stadium.

And Barker, who has fast become a crowd favourite at Victoria Park after bagging eight goals in 15 all-action appearances, wants to see the letter 'P' next to his side's name in the League Two table come 5pm this evening.

Then Pools, with three games to follow, will be going all out to secure the League Two title, having led the table since mid-February.

"I've only ever had one promotion before and that was with Rotherham into the Championship,'' reflected Barker.

"If we do achieve this promotion it would rank right up there for me and would probably be better really.

"As at Rotherham, I signed at Christmas. But even though I played a part in the promotion, I only played eight games.

"If I can stay in the team for the rest of the season and score the goals that help get us there it will certainly be the biggest thing that I've ever achieved.''

Barker netted Pools' winner on Easter Monday against Accrington, smashing home from the spot in the second half after he was brought down in the area.

But he also missed from 12 yards in the first-half and admitted: "You've got to look to improve all the time. It's great that we are nearly there but I almost let a lot of people down on Monday and it's not something I want to go through again.

"Had we not got that second penalty the chance late on that I missed from Joel (Porter's assist) and the penalty could have cost us.''

Barker recently admitted sessions with club psychologist Brian Jones had been beneficial and the striker, after his first-half mishap, even found time for a chat during the interval on Monday.

"I spoke to the psychologist before the game, maybe that's what got me through the second one, I don't know,'' he said.

"I had a chat with him at half-time and we tried to focus on the second-half and be positive, rather than focus on what had gone before, and hopefully I did that.

"But it was almost a slight anti-climax that I almost let everyone down.

"It's easier said than done sometimes, putting what has gone on before behind you.

"Yes, we got the win but there are things that go through your head in the second half.

"Then I missed the chance from Joel, so if they got one I would have cost everybody.

"Every time we play a team like Accrington, who are fighting for their lives, they make it tough.

" I did that for two, two-and-a-half years at where I've just come from (Mansfield).

"It's nice to be at the top, but I tell you what, the pressure is just as bad at the bottom.''

Barker moved to Pools from Mansfield in January and he added: "I took penalties last year and scored goals that helped keep us in the division.

"Now I'm hoping to score goals and penalties that will get us out of this division.''