More late relief for on-form Pools

STRIKE ONE: James Poole drills in his low shot to put Pools ahead

STRIKE ONE: James Poole drills in his low shot to put Pools ahead

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

Final Score: Scunthorpe United 1 Hartlepool United 2

LAST time out and, with 90 seconds of five minutes of added on time remaining, Luke James’ volley took a deflection and went in, winning three points for Hartlepool United.

On Saturday, Pools were again faced with five minutes of stoppage time, although it was a different scenario as they had a lead to hold onto this time.

Seconds remaining and, forced to defend, they repelled a deep cross. But they only cleared it as far as midfielder Jimmy Ryan, onto the ball 25 yards out and he instantly cracked a low, first-time volley.

Scott Flinders frantically dived across his goal, the home crowd were starting to celebrate a leveller for Scunthorpe.

The ball fizzed outside the post and bounced off the advertising hoardings, the referee instantly blew for fulltime.

Flinders, judging by his reaction, as he laid flat out was a relieved goalkeeper. He must have thought he was beaten.

Ryan’s reaction was equally emotional, and devastating for the player. He must have thought he had scored.

The smallest of margins in successive games meant Pools had won their fourth game from six.

It shows the difference in Pools these days. During their miserable first-half to the season they would more likely not have scored against Orient and then conceded at Glanford Park.

Now they are unbeaten in five away games, have taken 14 points from a possible 18 and moved off the bottom.

Avoiding the drop is still some task – Scunthorpe are the team directly outside the drop zone and eight points ahead of Pools, but have played a game more.

Beat Crewe at Victoria Park tomorrow night and the gap could be further reduced.

Pools are now level on points with third-bottom Bury.

At the moment, bit by bit, they are clawing their way up.

Goals from James Poole and Jon Franks won this one, two fine strikes, the first a team effort, the second a flash of individual flair.

Pools dominated possession in the first-half. Charlie Wyke soon realised the best way to get the better of centre-half David Mirfin and he was a focal point for the attack.

He was ill during the game, but had a key role in the opener.

Jon Franks crossed deep and Ritchie Humphreys steered a header into Wyke.

One touch to control, one to lay off and James Poole latched onto it to fire in his fourth of the season.

For the second goal, Simon Walton won a midfield tackle and the ball fell for Franks, loitering in a central position.

Allowed freedom thanks to the formation Pools have adopted, he only had one thought as he took the ball, to turn and go forward.

Slipping through the defence without a challenge, he was too powerful. Presented with the chance to shoot, he only had one place to put the ball – low across Sam Slocombe into the far corner.

The Northern Echo: Pools Players
Pools’ players get together to celebrate Jon Franks’ goal to put them two goals up

Before half-time, Franks had a shot deflected wide, Peter Hartley’s goalbound header was diverted over and Pools had a big penalty appeal for handball knocked back.

A third goal would have killed the game and it almost came when Poole collected Wyke’s knock-down and his measured volley beat Slocombe and crashed off the crossbar.

Pools did sit a bit deep to invite pressure, but were rarely troubled until James Alabi headed in to make for a nervous finale. But it wasn’t until Ryan’s late shot they were overly stretched.

“When you’re scoring goals you’ve always got a chance and we’re doing that right now,’’ said Hughes, after Pools’ second win at Glanford Park since 1989 – the only other one was last year.

“We can only look after ourselves and we have to keep our feet on the ground.

“You saw in the first half the football we can play. We were getting it in the pockets and working overloads with Franksy and Poolie.

“They don’t play as out-andout wingers but cause teams real problems in those areas.

“They have a real energy – but I still think there’s more to come from them.’’ Hughes has instilled a positive nature within the club after the most morose of outlooks in the first half of the campaign.

“It’s all about mindset,’’ he insisted. “You have to believe in yourself, no matter what.

“I’m talking about having a heart the size of a lion and I still think they can dip into that mindset a little bit more and become better.

“A football club is nothing without its supporters and they were a different class.

“The supporters are everything.

When the club is doing well it’s great for the community.

“A lot of this is new to me but to see nearly 400 fans there was brilliant and we’re giving them belief.’’

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