NATHAN CLARKE and Andy Butler are confident they can combine to lay another clean-sheet foundation for victory against Hartlepool tonight.
Town, 10th in League I, staged their first shut-out in six games as they overcame Peterborough 1-0 on Saturday thanks to Michael Collins’ first-half goal.
And having put the brakes on much-vaunted Posh trio Craig Mackail-Smith, Aaron Mclean and George Boyd, the centre-backs are determined to follow suit against dangerous Pools pair Joel Porter and Daniel Nardiello.
Town have already suffered at the hands of Australian ace Porter this season.
The 30-year-old, recruited in 2003, got the goal which gave his side a 1-0 victory in the Hartlepool centenary tournament in July.
And two of his 16 competitive goals for the current campaign came when the North-Easterners struck three times in the final 10 minutes to defeat Town 5-3 back in October.
Former Manchester United, Barnsley and QPR man Nardiello, who scored against Town for the Oakwell side in both legs of the League I play-off semi-finals in 2006, joined Pools on loan from Blackpool on Thursday.
The 26-year-old couldn’t make it a scoring debut at Brighton on Saturday, when Chris Turner’s 16th-placed side lost 2-1, but he looked sharp.
"It’s going to be another tough game, and we all remember being done by them up there earlier in the season, but we should go into the game with confidence," said Clarke.
"I thought we fully deserved to beat Peterborough, who are right up there in the promotion frame, and it showed we are good enough to be in the mix as well.
"We began strongly, and didn’t really let them have a sniff in the first half, then when they pushed on in the second, playing with four up front at times, we defended well.
"They tore us apart down at Peterborough, but we identified the areas in which they were most dangerous and for long spells, stopped them playing.
"We got the better of one of the best sides in the division, and that should give us real belief as we push on, not just for the play-offs, but for an automatic promotion spot."
As Town target a fifth win in six home games under Lee Clark, Butler added: "After losing at Leicester and Yeovil, it was crucial we bounced back againt Posh.
"We’ve been working hard at making our home form strong and consistent, and we want another win tonight.
"We’re only six points of the play-off positions and another three against Hartlepool tonight would really keep up the pressure on the sides above us."