Fresh from his sublime solo goal at the weekend, Rhys Oates has won back the acclaim of the fans according to Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor.

The 26-year-old produced a goal of the season contender in what proved to be the only shining light of a 4-2 defeat to Maidenhead United.

Oates joined Luke Armstrong at the top of the goalscoring charts with that strike notching his 12th of the season and Challinor believes that re-signing him was a gamble that’s paid off.

“Oatesy’s been brilliant hence the reason we brought him back.

“You know what you’re going to get. A player that has been here previously and another one that really divides opinion. I think that is the nature of the club and the fanbase.

“When you really strip things back, the supporters will ultimately say that they want players on the pitch that give 100% and, as the back of the shirt says, the Never Say Die spirt.

“He epitomises that whether he has a good game or a rubbish game, scores, doesn’t score, you know what you’re going to get.

“I think from a management perspective, out of your starting 11, if you can have eight or nine of them in your team then you’re not in a bad place to move forward."

Oates made 99 league appearances, scoring 12 goals in his first spell at the club.

The 26-year-old was also part of the side that dropped out of Football League and eventually made a move to League Two Morecombe in 2018 before returning to Victoria Park last summer.

Challinor adds: “Oatesy coming back here might have had to happen. Proved a few people wrong."

“Now all of a sudden, people’s opinions have changed.

“When he was here previously maybe the position he played in, the system he played in maybe didn’t suit as much. Maybe from his eyes he saw himself as more of a wide player.

“As a central striker, he’s been a real handful and scored a lot of different types of goals.

“Probably if you combine him and Luke (Armstrong) and if he can do what Luke does in terms of them tap ins and them goals in the six yard box then you have the complete player.

“If he’d done that over the course of the season, he’d be one that would be getting 20 goals for you."

Pools travel to 15th placed Aldershot this weekend looking to continue their push for National League before travelling to league leaders Sutton United and then ending the season at home to Weymouth on May 29th.

They can secure a play-off spot at the EBB Stadium as Pools go in search of a top three finish, ensuring one less play-off game after the season draws to it’s conclusion.