PROGRESS for Hartlepool United? Twelve months ago merely having a club still in operation was viewed as a positive sign.

Three managers down the line, and with the club on a stable footing, there’s little, in the grand scheme of things, to play for as the season enters the final furlong.

After the start to the season Pools had – two defeats in 16 under Matthew Bates, expectations crept up a little. Play-offs were a possibility. Progress was being made.

But they couldn’t sustain it, progress stalled. Bates was dumped, Richard Money came in for a short stint and then Craig Hignett lifted spirits and outlook.

Now, after a 0-0 draw at Barnet, Pools are 12th in a 24 team division. A home record of six wins, six draws, seven defeats. An away record of six wins, seven draws, seven defeats. They’ve scored 25 at home, 22 away. They’ve shipped 26 at home, 27 away.

Middling ground in a middling division.

There’s no doubt Pools have to improve for next season and find greater consistency. They are showing that under Hignett, losing only two of nine games.

“There’s an exciting end of the season and we are in mid-table, but want to push on and get higher,’’ said Hignett.

“They’ve still got contracts to play for. There’s a lot to play for. We want to try and build something positive going into the new season.

“The top half is seen as progress with everything that has gone on and we would be happy in the top half.

“Before the season started we had a target of tenth. If we could finish tenth, get rid of all the legacy stuff with the issues we had and get things stable then we would be comfortable with that.

“But for what’s gone on, I think top half would be really good for us.’’

To get that top half finish, Pools have six points to make up on Barrow, the next team above them, a further three to the top ten.

Summing up their season in one game, Pools could have won this one, equally they could have lost it.

The wind wasn’t as brutal as it was at Fylde last week when Pools conceded four goals, but it certainly had a big influence again.

Pools’ keeper Scott Loach made a fine, agile save to push out a goalbound header from Peter Sweeney, the centre-half meeting one of a set of first-half corners for the home side.

Then Shaq Colthirst fired a shot against the outside of the post and Fraser Kerr did enough to put off Dave Torpey as he volleyed wide.

Kerr was solid throughout, winning headers when he had to inside his own area and clearing his defensive lines.

His partnership with David Edgar may have shipped six goals in its first two games, but they were resolute this time.

Edgar today flies off to Canada to join up with his international team-mates and should become the first Pools player to win a cap since 1964.

His experience and positional sense was important at the weekend as he regularly got in the way in the right areas to frustrate the home side.

“I thought David was really measured, not flustered and you could see he has played higher. He’s come in, fitted in well and will be a real help to the group,’’ said Hignett of the former Newcastle defender.

Kerr, took possession, strode forward and creamed a 30-yard shot at goal that was flying in before keeper Mark Cousins pushed it out of the top corner.

At the start of the second-half, Pools got at the Bees with Luke Molyneux and Liam Noble breaking into the area and having chances.

First-half and Pools were a bit subdued, sitting deep and stretching the play out which allowed the home side plenty of possession.

But they came out and played higher up the pitch after the break. Perhaps Nicke Kabamba could have had more support, as he was isolated at times and he did look more of a goalscorer with Luke James alongside him in his first games for Pools.

He did sweep home a fine finish, only to be ruled out by a tight offside flag.

“I thought Nicke Kabamaba had scored and I would love to see it again, because it was tight. I felt he had a really good game,’’ said Hignett.

Pools had a couple of scares, as Colthirst somehow missed a tap-in and then Myles Anderson hooked a shot off the line following a scramble.

Barnet’s Simeon Akinola was booked for going to ground in the area looking to win a cheap, late penalty.

Hignett added: “We spoke about the goals we conceded last week and conceding goals like that means you can’t win games.

“But they took on board what we said and defended well.

“Second half we played well and better with the ball. We were dangerous on the counter attack. Conditions made it hard for both sides, not as much as Tuesday, but it was tough.

“It’s about keeping them out at the back and finding a happy medium between scoring goals and not conceded, but we needed to stop conceding.

“To come here and get appoint is pleasing.’’