GAVIN Strachan and Tommy Widdrington might not have played together at Hartlepool United but, in two outings this season, the current Pool midfielder holds the upper hand.

Widdrington is back at Vale Park, the club from where he moved to Pool in 2001, after being released by Macclesfield this season.

He's playing for free, on non-contract terms, offering his vast experience to a young side.

And twice against his old club this season, he's been on the losing side. First for Macclesfield in the Carling Cup and again in League One action on Saturday.

"I've met him a couple of times off the pitch, socially if you like,'' said Strachan. "He's a great bloke and a great professional.

"He does a good job for the team, but I'm trying not to laugh at him all the time because he's always on at the referee!

"We are similar players in how we use the ball and I get on well with him.''

The win was Pool's eighth game away from home without defeat and, after completing a second successive seasonal double over The Valiants, Strachan added: "We have won ugly away from home and it was just what we needed to get back on track again.

"It was a great start for us, but we seem to like playing at Port Vale - we won 5-2 there last season and now won again this time.

"Scoring so early can work both ways - it can set you up or give the opposition some determination - but I never really thought we were in any trouble.

"Apart from a couple of crosses, Dimi didn't have much to do. He gave us all a scare later on, I don't know what he was doing!

"I suppose as a home team they will have been disappointed because they didn't trouble us.

"It was a good away performance from us and we could have been two-up, three-up maybe, it wouldn't have been that unfair if it was.''

* The Victoria Park pitch is covered in snow and the club is appealing to fans to help clear the surface ahead of tomorrow's game with Brentford. Fans - with shovels - are asked to turn up at the ground this morning.

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