KEEPING the Victoria Park crowd on side is important for Hartlepool United.

Pools are one of the best supported teams in the National League, with attendances regularly over the 3,000 mark.

Home form has been terrible for a number of seasons now, but the crowds have remained faithful.

The negative outlook which engulfed the place a little over a year ago has gone, replaced by a more positive atmosphere.

While some problems with the club and supporters in the North West Corner of the Neale Cooper Stand appeared to have been temporarily ironed out, there’s hope Pools will get back on track at home this afternoon.

Aldershot are the visitors, as Pools set out to put last weekend’s defeat at Barnet to bed and start another run to bridge the six-point gap to the play-offs.

Boss Dave Challinor said: “After losing a game it’s about how you respond. We are at home and have had a decent run, with a good atmosphere at home and we get three points this time and reenergise that hope of getting into the play-off positions.

“After the last game at home we felt we were getting somewhere. Everyone felt positive. We spoke before coming to the club about how the home crowd can be a massive plus – it can’t be your Achilles’ heel and be something against you.

“We are the catalyst for the crowd to give them something to be involved with and we have done that in the main really well.’’

Speaking to BBC Tees, he added: “We have to be focused on what we do. Coming into a new job means you are always looking at players and what you want and need from them.

“What it doesn’t do is distract from the next game. All our focus in coaching is about the next game, time on afternoon and evenings is about the other side, add ons to what we do day to day.

“We are still embedding down principles and working hard. It’s been a tough schedule and we are now without midweek games so Tuesdays in training have been really tough and the players have bought into it well.’’

Pools will be without Gavan Holohan this afternoon, the midfielder suspended for one-game after being sent-off last weekend.

Today’s opponents are 18th, four points and five places below Pools.

Challinor added: “It’s tough league to string a long run of results together because of the nature of the teams. There’s usually no real surprises in this division.

“We have to control consistency of performance and in large parts we’ve done that.

“Margins are really fine. Before Barnet we should have won the other four and then should have got something on Saturday – we haven’t and that defines teams in mid-table and those at the top.’’

Of Pools’ hopes to get into the top seven, Challinor added: “We have to keep believing we can get there and it is realistic because of where we are at the moment. Games can run out, three points over a point make a big difference.

“This little run we’ve not got the points merited but we can’t keep saying that and now we have another opportunity against a team around us.’’