WILL he? Or won’t he get the Hartlepool United job.

Only time will tell if the new group in power at the National League strugglers, Raj Singh, Jeff Stelling and Craig Hignett, will put their faith in Matthew Bates to revive this ailing club.

Whether Bates is handed the reins or not, the former Middlesbrough defender is convinced that one of the priorities is to restore the relationship between the team and the Victoria Park faithful.

That process could do with starting at the Vic tomorrow night when Pools host the side who fell out of the Football League with them last May, Leyton Orient.

Just one more win and Pools are guaranteed a place in the fifth tier again come August. After all the hassles and heartache this season has brought, it will be a blessed relief to all of a blue and white persuasion.

The Pools travelling support have lapped up the improved form on the road and loudly cheered off the players at Gander Green Lane, where the side held promotion favourites Sutton United to a hard-earned point, a result which left them five points above the drop zone.

“We have to back this up,” said Bates. “We are due a win at home.

“Leyton Orient will be a different proposition to Sutton but we have to follow it up and keep doing what we are doing away.

“It is massively important.

“We have two home games now, we need to go and show the home fans what we show the away fans.

“We have not been the same team at Victoria Park.

“The players should relax and enjoy playing at home.

"There has been an anxiety at home where the performances have been poor for two, three or four years now.

"You can sense that with the crowd. It is like when you go home to your missus and you both don't say anything to each other but you know she's not happy with you.

"I think it is the players' fault, not the fans.

"Moving forward we need to provide sustained results and performances so the fans stay with us. We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

"The supporters have been used to rubbish for years. It's now about trying to get a squad to make them proud and give them something to cheer about."

Bates has certainly shown his credentials for a crack at the job full time.

This point in South London stretched the unbeaten run on their travels to four matches.

Following an unlucky defeat at Aldershot in his opening away game, Bates has overseen a run of two wins and two draws, the sort of form which gets teams promoted.

The 31-year-old has been tactically astute, operating a midfield diamond which, with an extra player up front has proved effective, while he showed on Saturday he was quick to tweak it when Pools were struggling to cope with the Sutton attack.

He and his unpaid staff of Ged McNamee and Ross Turnbull appear to be bringing the best out of the previously under-performing players. Certainly, Turnbull whose work with Scott Loach has not gone unnoticed.

There has been little wrong with Loach’s shot-stopping ability, he has produced the spectacular on countless occasions. But he is much more positive leaving his line, something essential in this division.

And Loach had to be at his best on Saturday when Pools came under fire from a side chasing promotion to the Football League.

After a couple of early stops, he was beaten in the ninth minute when Aswad Thomas’s beautifully delivered free-kick from wide on the right was headed in by Ross Lafayette.

Loach kept out Harry Beautyman’s header while Tommy Wright headed over the bar when it looked easier to score.

However, just when you feared Pools were in for a hiding, they drew level in the 26th minute with a piece of quality from Josh Hawkes.

Sutton could not clear a Michael Woods cross and ball fell nicely for Hawkes who drilled a 16 yard shot low across the 3G ‘turf’ and past Jamie Butler.

It offered only a temporary respite unfortunately.

Loach made an incredible low 31st-minute save from Beautyman and rescued Pools again four minutes later when he saved at Lafayette's feet after the powerful striker was allowed to break in on goal.

Six minutes before the break, Loach was called into action to beat away a Kenny Davis long-range effort.

Loach saved well early in the second half from Craig Eastmond at his near post but, thereafter, was not troubled as Pools got into the game.

While they did not scare Butler, they were a much stronger force and were worthy of a point.

Talking of scares, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Laing committed his second last-gasp howler in three games, allowing Lafayette a chance to win it at the death only for the home man of the match to put it wide.