BOSS Matt Ford is adamant Pirates will be key contenders in the race for the play-offs despite their underwhelming start to the season.

The Wimborne Road side have lost five of their opening six SGB Premiership fixtures and are bottom of the table heading into tomorrow's clash with Rye House.

However, Ford says there is plenty of time to turn things round and is confident Poole will soon climb the table.

He told the Daily Echo: "It's interesting that while we have had quite a poor start by our standards, we are only four points off the play-offs.

"Our four away meetings have been against the top four in the league. Against the top two, Wolverhampton and Swindon, we didn't pick up anything but against Belle Vue and Rye House we picked up a point.

"The home match against Swindon showed our frailties but had we won that fixture, we would now be thinking differently about this team.

"There is an awful long way to go and I'm certain that once we're settled, it won't take us too long to make up any difference.

"There are going to be an awful lot of twists and turns between now and the end of the season and I'm sure we'll be in the mix to do something."

Pirates took a losing point from their 48-42 defeat at Rye House on Monday, a meeting in which ill fortune played its part.

Ford said: "It was a good performance. The new boys, Stefan Nielsen and Richie Worrall, seem to have made a difference and, potentially, we could have won with a bit more luck.

"Mat Szczepaniak believes he beat Nikolai Busk Jakobsen in heat 12, Stefan broke down while leading and there was Josh Grajczonek's exclusion as well.

"We seem to not have an awful lot of luck going for us at the moment. But as they say in sport, you make your own luck."

Football will return to Poole Stadium ahead of the Rockets return clash when the venue hosts the first quarter-final of a Poole schools tournament.

Eight teams will compete over the next six weeks with Longfleet and Bishop Aldhelm's kicking things off.

The 30-minute seven-a-side matches will begin at 6.45pm with the eventual champions receiving a Pirates-sponsored kit as well as medals and a trophy.

Ford told the club website: "Having football back in the stadium is very special and combining it with the speedway is even better.

"It will be great for the kids playing to experience the speedway once their matches have finished.

"I'd like to thank the seven teams we have booked in to take part in the tournament. We do have space for one more team so any middle schools in the Poole area who wish to take part should contact me.

"I would urge everyone to support the teams before the bikes start up."

Any schools wishing to take up the eighth spot in the tournament should email