WHEN it comes to worrying about the outcome of the season going into the final few games of the season, Hartlepool United have it nailed.

Pools go to Sutton today. With four games to go they still could do with one win to make sure they are still in the National League next season.

They blew two good opportunities to get that elusive victory when they managed to lose two home games in the space of five days.

Last season they were relegated on the final day, 12 months earlier only a fine run of results in March under Craig Hignett staved off relegation worries.

In 2015, Pools pulled off the Great Escape. A year earlier and only a win with three games to go kept them out of the bottom two in League Two. In 2013 they were relegated to League Two.

You have to go back to 2012 for the last time Pools were comfortable in the table, finishing 13th in League One.

Six seasons of struggle. Considering the state of the club off the pitch over the last two years, perhaps it’s fortunate that Pools are still in business today.

The takeover by Raj Singh can only stabilise things.

Pools are four places above the bottom four, with a four-point cushion over Barrow. Midweek results weren’t kind to Pools, as Barrow and Solihull both won.

Pools have two home games to come in the next week – Orient on Tuesday, Torquay on Saturday – so they have two more good chances to secure the points.

But Matthew Bates, in caretaker charge and who led Pools to a five-game unbeaten run last month, admitted there’s a different sort of pressure on his side now.

“We have conceded two late goals in the last two home games and it’s hard to take,’’ he reflected. “Home form has been terrible this season.

“I read somewhere in press that one manager was saying that if you are getting chased then it’s harder than if you are doing the chasing yourselves.

“We went three games in a row which we won and got a good gap between ourselves and the bottom four – it was seven points ahead.

“It then becomes that we are being chased by others. We are then playing at home – does that add a bit of pressure?

“I’ve said before the fans get behind us, but not if we don’t start well and we didn’t start well the other day and there’s a feeling of anxiety which is understandable.

“It’s so important to start well at home, win your tackles and your battles and then fans come with you to make it easier for you.’’

He recalled of Pools’ 2015 heroics under Ronnie Moore: “When we pulled off the Great Escape we were always chasing teams and got some momentum. The pressure is off you in that situation chasing. You are only looking ahead of you and not over your shoulders.

“Sub-consciously you are wondering what’s going on, players are coming in at half-time asking about other games, and it’s a different mindset worrying about other things going on rather than your own – it’s wrong, but that’s how it is.

“Now we need to get back to winning ourselves and what we do.

“Results the other night weren’t great for us, I said before we played Solihull that I don’t think they will go down, they won again and I don’t think we are up against them as such.’’

Today’s opponents, who include former Pools’ midfielder Simon Walton, lost at Halifax in midweek and are in a play-off spot.

Bates added: “We know the situation and facing a team up there challenging for promotion, but we need points on the board and it’s important we get them.

“We aren’t daunted by the task, results in this league vary week by week, we have won three in a row and then lost to two teams below us – it’s how our season has gone really.

“We regroup this week and look forward to the test come on a nice 4G pitch, which will suit us too.

“They are experienced and work hard, get the ball wide and into the box – like a lot of teams in this league, but they know with their experience how to win football matches.

“It’s a test, but they have lost their last three and if we apply ourselves right we can get at them.

“They play on a 4G pitch, but we have trained on one at our training ground recently and we can get used to it. No excuses for us there. We went to Maidstone, played well and won on a 4G pitch so we know what we can do.’’