Boss Tom Killick understands the task ahead of his charges as they welcome unbeaten Hayes & Yeading to the Black Gold this afternoon, with Poole’s manager keen to keep Hayes within striking distance in the league table.
Defeat for Dolphins would see Hayes open up a gap of four points whilst boasting a further four points in hand, potentially allowing Hayes to but 16 points between themselves and Poole.
In a somewhat unfamiliar position of playing more games than most sides in the league, Killick admitted that Hayes were unlikely to lose many games this season.
Speaking to All Poole Aren’t We, Killick stated: “In a way – you’d think a side as good as Hayes & Yeading, if you were trying to assess or estimate how many league games they’re likely to lose between now and the end of the season, if someone said they’re going to lose six games, that’s possibly the sort of number that you might think.
“If suddenly we’re four points behind and they’ve got four games in hand, maths is not my strong point, but we could only really afford to only lose a couple more games all season to finish above them.
“Again, already so early in the season you can put yourself under pressure if gaps open up, and we don’t want gaps to open up – it is important.
“Hayes & Farnborough have started very well, and you could say that they are trying to open up a little bit of a gap, but I always knew it was going to be hugely tight at the top end – even the top half really, and that’s how it is.”
Poole’s comfortable win over Merthyr midweek will serve as both a confidence boost and relief, with Killick feeling more comfortable heading into two tough games against Hayes and then Truro.
“I think from our point of view, these four wins we’ve had have put us in a much more healthy position,” continued Killick.
“That was why I was a bit anxious about that Merthyr game, we knew we then had to go into two very difficult games – albeit at home – against Hayes & Yeading and Truro.
“I know Truro haven’t started amazingly well, but I still view Truro as one of the strongest sides in the league. If you drop points against Merthyr, you suddenly put yourself under pressure against two games against two very powerful teams.”
When asked if he preferred having games in hand or points on the board, Killick admitted he preferred to have had the games under his side’s belt.
“It’s a bit refreshing for us to be in a position where we’ve got a few extra points and perhaps played more games than anyone else.
“I don’t remember us ever being a position where we played more games than many other teams, so we’d much rather have it this way round than trying to fit in games.
“You look at Hayes & Yeading in terms of the games’ they’ve played, and add in the fact they’ve got another FA Cup game where they’ll lose a league game, it puts them under a little bit more pressure in terms of fitting games in.”
Hayes were taken to extra-time and penalties by National South Dorking during the week, but Killick believes any advantage gained by the extra football would be negated by the buzz surrounding the club who reached the First Round of the FA Cup for the third straight year in a row.
“There’s a balance, isn’t there – they’re going to be absolutely full of confidence, beating a Conference South side over two games, so there’s that.
“The only negative you’d imagine for them is they’d ideally wouldn’t want to play the extra time. The extra time, physically and emotionally, would have been draining.
“So we have to see that as a positive for us and a negative for them, but the other side of the coin is that I’m sure they will be full of confidence.”