Hartlepool United have progressed to the edge of the play-off zone of late. The hard work is being done by the week and the manager won’t allow his players to let their standards slip.

Pools were set a target of eight wins from 12 games to make the top seven. They now have nine games to go and the manager wants six more victories.

The midweek win at Solihull and the point at Bromley last week set them up for today’s home game with Ebbsfleet. Pools are only out of the play-off spots on goal difference, while the opposition are in the relegation zone.

But the nature of the division means standards won’t be allowed to slip.

“Motivation for us is the fact there’s a bit of light there to hold onto,’’ said boss Dave Challinor.

“When you are in a good position and winning, then Saturday can’t come quick enough and we are all looking forward to the Vic being packed and bouncing and we have an objective to achieve this season.

“Anyone between third and 13th has a chance of getting in the play-offs. As for a set number of points you need, results can go for you on a weekend – and teams in and around the top seven are playing each other – but do what you have to do for yourself and it becomes a different outlook, much brighter.

“We hope the table looks better on Saturday and it will only get us to a point where we want to be, with a long way to go.’’

Home form has been turned around at Victoria Park – Pools have won their last four there for the first time since 2016 and the crowd is onside.

“There’s bound to be some bumps in the road along the way, but it’s about doing what we can control and if we do that then we will give ourselves a chance,’’ said Challinor.

“That target remains the same, I think the target will be a minimum requirement and that’s based on previous experience and totals needed. You still look at teams beating each other and if we can get more than what I set then brilliant, but I would take it if offered and if we get that target then I would be disappointed if it didn’t get us at least one more game.

“Ours is a massively important game for us and there’s other games going on which can enhance us in some way, provided we take care of what we do.

“Every player in this division knows anyone can beat anyone so regardless, the inconsistencies are there. You have to be bang at it every single day and improve every day. Do that and we make steps forward and margins are really fine.’’

There’s only been one defeat in nine at home under Challinor, when Harrogate won on January 1. With the negativity hanging around erased, the manager believes supporters have a vital role in the last five home matches.

“It’s easy to look at it and say big crowd helps, but you need to make them be behind you for a period or it can be a hindrance,’’ said Challinor.

“Yes, we need them because they can be the fine margin we speak about winning and drawing and we need to give them something to get behind.

“At some point we will have questions asked and we need them to get behind us when things aren’t going for us – that would be a big objective and would help us see we all want to get back to where the club wants to be.

“It’s always going to be tough, but we have built and got a bit of feelgood back about the place and try and ramp it up as much as possible.’’