After 42 games in a long and hard season, Hartlepool United take on Bromley this afternoon at Victoria Park in a National League play-off eliminator tie.

This will easily go down as there most important game of the season. A win for Pools or Bromley would set up a semi final tie away to Stockport County next Sunday. 

A sell out crowd is expected through the turnstiles at the Vic this afternoon for their first play-off game since 2005 when Pools lost by four goals two against Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-off final. 

Manager Dave Challinor has been involved in numerous play-off campaigns with AFC Fylde over the years. Most recently in 2019 when he took them to Wembley where they eventually lost to Salford City in the final 3-0.

Challinor said in the build up to this game, he will have watched yesterday's play-off eliminator between Notts County and Chesterfield to get a feel of the environment and atmosphere. 

Challinor said: "As with all play-off campaigns, what you have to do is draw a line at the end of the seaon.

"You can't prepare before last Saturday's game because there was so many unanswered questions in terms of potential opponents or what day it was on, where you go so there was loads of different anomalies.

"What you want to do, at this part of the year, is to have all your chioice of players to pick from. Some are missing out through season ending injuries thart we've picked up along the way and that's a disappointment for them.

"With the group we've got, largely we are in good shape and hopefully we've got enough to progress over the next three weeks."

Bromley are a side who have done well against Pools in the past, having only lost one of their previous seven meetings against them in the league.

The Pools squad have been training all week and doing their homework on their opponents at East Durham College. Despite the long term injuries of Ben Killip and Joe Grey, Pools should have a full squad at their disposal.

With all the poor results against the South Londoners in the past, Challinor says they can't take anything for granted and they expect a tough encounter.

“Who’s favourites? Are we favourites because we’re at home? Are they favourites because we’ve not beaten them? It’s a close game.

“The teams that are in the play-offs are six good sides and the league table tells you that over the course of the season, there’s not a lot between any of us.

“We’ve seen in this league on a number of occasions, regardless of the teams being at the top, on any given day, anyone can beat anyone.

“It is a toss of a coin game but we go into it believing ourselves and backing ourselves just as Bromley will.

“Regardless of how it goes, what we need to do is make sure we do everything we can, control the variables that we’ve spoken about before and hopefully that leads to a winning outcome for us.”

“I think the strength in Bromley is the fact that they are a team, rather than an individual, that are resolute.

“A strong bunch who alongside that have goalscorer (Michael Cheek) who has got more than 20 goals for them this season and that’s put them in the position they’re in but they’re far more than just him.

“We have to be aware that he’s a goal threat. They have goal threats elsewhere but we’ve got goal threats and we can hurt them.

“We have to concentrate on us and how we can prevent him from getting into those areas. Hopefully he has a quiet day.”

The game kicks off at 2:30pm this afternoon at the Vic.