THE last time Hartlepool United took on Notts County, Dave Challinor was a more than interested spectator.

When they meet today at Victoria Park, the Pools boss expects a similar occasion.

While Challinor looked on from the stand, he was observing his players in waiting. About to be appointed Pools boss, he took the chance to cast an early eye over the side.

Only a handful of the players on duty that afternoon in the 2-2 draw will be included today.

Pools led 2-0, before being pegged back. It felt like a proper game of football that day, the sort both Pools and the Magpies want regularly as they chase Football League returns.

“That was a really good game, great atmosphere,’’ he recalled. “With last weekend’s game off we hopefully carry the momentum from the previous game into it. We hope the crowd will be a big one, for two big football clubs who want to get back to where they’ve spent more of their past.

“I went to see Notts last weekend and know what we are up against.

“That day when I was an interested spectator it was a game we should have won. It shows how games can change, one moment in the 46th minute got them back into a game which should have been done.

“It’s a different one this time, but a big opportunity for us.’’

He added: “The team has changed since then, I feel this is more my team now and it’s still a work in progress and we assess where you are at.

“Now we have done that and it seems there’s been a bit of a turnaround the lads here have bought into what we are trying to do. It’s how I believe we can be successful and how they can be successful, not only here but to be playing at a higher level. Moving forward it’s about requirements; physically and intensity increase the higher you go and doing that is doing everyone the world of good.

“Players are taking it on board. We were playing a slightly different way last weekend, but it’s about us evolving slightly and growing bit by bit.

“We work to get better so we can be more successful and more of a threat.’’

Home form at Victoria Park has been a problem for many a year, but there’s a sense that the outlook in changing.

Pools have won their last three at home, and lost only once under Challinor there.

Today’s opponents will provide a test, winning five times on the road and they will attack Pools, which makes for an open game.

Challinor added: “Home form has picked up, we have got better, but you have to put a run together at home. Successful teams have a good home record. I think there’s a difference from me coming in to how I potentially thought we would go about things.

“When we’ve a big crowd behind us we need to give them something to get behind. I want to be on the front foot and we go forward a little bit more than what I’ve done previous, but I want us to be positive and get behind us.

“Supporters have been brilliant and if we can get it bouncing this season and further forward for next season then it had to be a major strength rather than a bit of a burden. That’s our responsibility as a management team and bunch of players.’’