HARTLEPOOL UNITED have already tasted joy and pain at Yeovil this season as they go back there for the third time.

Pools made the hike to Huish Park in the first round of the FA Cup in November, only for the game to be washed off at the last-minute. They went back three days later and won 4-1.

The Glovers were also beaten at Victoria Park earlier in the season.

Today they are back in the West Country seeking a victory to maintain their ambitions of a play-off spot. They are outside ambitions right now as they are looking on from afar at the top seven.

“I’ve been there four times this season now! They have reacted well to relegation from the league and with my previous club early in the season they were the best side I’ve come across,’’ said boss Dave Challinor. “They start games well and we have to react to that and are an expansive side. But Hartlepool, as a club, have had some good results against them and we have been there and won this season and take confident from that.

“It’s a different team, but a lot of what we are trying to do will be the same.’’

He added: “We won there before and it was positive against a good side. We conceded early, but getting one back soon was big for us after travelling there and back on the day. Were the lads a bit motivated by being there on the Saturday for nothing? But we have different personnel now and we don’t have Luke James’ threat now.

“The gameplan will be similar. They are a good side and we have to adapt and look after ourselves.

Pools drew at Dover last week, conceding an equaliser in stoppage time after taking a first-half lead.

Challinor fully understands the need to change the outlook around the club and added: “We are short of the play-off places, with a lot to play for. We are wary of needing to take advantage now of the position and put a run together. The disappointment of last weekend in conceding so late was not putting back to back wins together.

“Win this and we have won two from three, which is great, but we need to pick off teams above us.

“We have direct influence in the next few weeks on teams above us to bridge a gap, but teams at the top are there for a reason.’’

The manager, appointed in early November, wants his players to be fitter and play with more intensity and accepts they will reap the benefits in the weeks to come once they up their levels.

He said: “It’s now a case of can we do what we want them to do for longer periods? To do that we have to get fitter, better physically in terms of intensity of how we play. To do that we work hard in training and we have done this this week. It’s not a quick turnaround from one level to another, but it’s a process to work through and the players have bought into it.

“We can, hopefully, see the improvement on a weekend.’’

Pools will be without Nicke Kabamba after the striker yesterday completed a surprise move to Kilmarnock.

Challinor needs international clearance to arrive before he can field Aidan Keena after he moved from Hearts last Friday, but hopes for some positive injury news in the coming week.

He said: “We have a room full of injuries right now. It’s positive that Josh Hawkes isn’t as serious, so back sooner than later. Kenton Richardson could be back next week. Fraser Kerr is frustrating with his back as it tends to seize up and then ease and then goes back a bit.

“Michael Raynes is longer term and we hope to see Luke Williams back on the grass at the end of the month and being a bit careful with him given his injury record.

“With no midweek games we can get some real work into the players and Luke Molyneux needs the work. We have a Durham Senior Cup game next Thursday, which I’m not happy about playing Thursday with a game Saturday, and playing Luke then could be part of the plan.’’