TEAM manager Neil Middleditch has likened Pirates’ topsy-turvy season to the Forrest Gump quotation “you never know what you're gonna get”.

Poole’s Jekyll-and-Hyde campaign was this week epitomised in the space of 48 hours – a disappointing 12-point defeat at Somerset followed by a crushing home win over champions Swindon.

The results have left them second in SGB Premiership ahead of Bank Holiday Monday’s crucial return double-header against the Rebels (Wimborne Road, 12.30pm) and the Robins (Blunsdon, 7.30pm).

Appointed in 1999, Middleditch has won seven top-flight crowns with Pirates and admits the current title race is the most open he has ever been involved in.

As the season prepares to reach a gripping climax, just seven points separate the top six as the battle for the top-four play-off places intensifies.

Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “Any title is great but with it being so close this year, it would be quite an achievement to win it.

“I am not putting my boys down at all but we haven’t got the Chris Holder-Darcy Ward effect which we used to. We knew we were always going to be solid in heats 13 and 15.

“Now, it is a bit Forrest Gump – you never know what you are going to get.

“All the boys are capable of winning races and meetings for us. When we click as a unit, we are a very good team but we cannot carry passengers.

“But six or seven weeks ago, we were dead and buried and everybody, apart from us, had written us off. Never underestimate a Pirate.

“Matt (Ford) kept changing the team and you have to do that if you want to succeed. You can’t just sit there and hope things are going to sort themselves out.”

Although the team finishing top of the table after the regulation season gets first pick in the play-offs, Middleditch believes that can sometimes be a poisoned chalice.

He added: “It can sometimes be a difficult decision and I would be quite happy to finish second or third. I think we are good enough to win it without having to finish top. We have proved that in the past and, hopefully, we can prove it again this year.

“We have been in that quandary and you sit there as a team thinking who you are going to pick. Then, if you pick the wrong one, you think you should have picked someone else. Sometimes it isn’t always best to finish top but only time will tell.

“I have never known this many teams being involved. It is very tight and that is why we can’t afford any slips. I think we have the harder run-in of all the teams. It is going to be a test to see if we really have the mettle to be champions.”