POOLE Town boss Tom Killick has piled the pressure on his players by sounding out a defiant message: “We expect promotion.”

The Dolphins, last season’s beaten play-off finalists, are the bookies’ odds-on favourites |to clinch the Southern League Division One South & West championship.

Killick’s charges are currently second, eight points behind fellow big-spenders Hungerford but with no fewer than six games in hand on the leaders.

And ahead of tonight’s Tatnam showdown with fourth-placed Swindon Supermarine (7.45pm), Killick has made no bones about Poole’s prime target for the season.

He told the Daily Echo: “People say you shouldn’t put players under pressure but I don’t really buy into that theory. We expect to be promoted so the players have to know that.

“There is no point trying to disguise it or dress it up. We are desperate to go up. I know it, the directors know it so the players need to know it as well. If that creates pressure, then you have to deal with it.

“It is important your expectations are high. If you start making noises the other way, I think it sends the wrong message to the players and they start thinking it isn’t the end of the world if they lose games and drop points.

“It surprises me when I see other clubs almost giving themselves a get-out by saying they are not particularly interested in doing anything this year and will try to do something next year. In my opinion, that lets players off the hook and the mentality is that winning isn’t the be-all and end-all.

“I would rather have it the other way so the players know that, when we drop a point, it is an unmitigating disaster. I know that puts pressure on them but that is the environment we are in.”

Killick was among the crowd to see Hungerford edge a 1-0 victory over Swindon Supermarine earlier this month and said the Wiltshire outfit had impressed.

“After about five minutes, I thought Hungerford would be a bigger threat but, after watching the game in its entirety, Swindon were a very good team,” said Killick.

“At first glance, they looked quite young and lightweight. But they were a good footballing side with some really good players. Although they weren’t as strong physically as some teams in the division, as a footballing side, you could see why they have been doing as well as they have.”

Marine recently won 10 league games on the bounce but arrive at Tatnam on the back of a three-match winless run. Poole, meanwhile, have taken 24 from a possible 27 points in their past nine games.

Dolphins: (from) Hutchings, K Emmerson, Walker, Spetch, Clarke, Preston, Devlin, Howes, Burbidge, Charles, Byerley, Kelly, Brooks, Baggridge, Richardson, Dibba, Baines, S Brown, T Brown.