ONE goal in front at Ashton Gate entering the closing minutes - Hartlepool United have been there before.

"Thanks for reminding me about that,'' laughed Martin Scott. "I'd tried to put that one to the back of my mind.''

But Scott could afford to smile about this one.

While they crumbled to concede two killer goals in the play-off semi-final of May 2004, this time they stood firm to record a welcome victory.

When first Steve Brooker headed at goal with 88 minutes on the clock and then Guy Madjo found himself running into the penalty area to go one-on-one with Dimi Konstantopoulos, hearts were in Pool mouths.

But the Greek saved Brooker's seven-yard header before a starfish jump saw him collect the ball and stop Madjo's attempted lob.

That was game over and the team that can't win in front of their own fans after six goes this season recorded their third win on the road.

Amazingly, if only two of those drawn home games had ended in wins the extra four points would see Pool in seventh spot this morning, just a place outside the play-off zone.

At the same stage last season, Pool were tenth with just three more points than their current haul.

Who said it was all doom and gloom at Victoria Park?

The division isn't spectacular, far from it, consistency is the key.

And just when Pool may be getting a coherent outlook to their game - this was their second clean sheet in as many games - they have a fortnight to wait before their next game at Nottingham Forest on October 15.

Whether boss Scott sticks with the same 4-5-1 formation remains to be seen. He admitted afterwards he didn't know if it would be adopted again, but on this performance it's certainly a viable option.

Pool did to Bristol exactly what teams have done to Pool at home this season, try and stifle the home side and defend the point they started out with.

Michael Proctor's goal meant they had 36 minutes to defend three of them and they did it to good affect.

Konstantopoulos had extolled the virtues of playing behind a regular back four. On Saturday, Darren Williams, Micky Nelson, Neill Collins and Ritchie Humphreys all impressed both as individuals and as a unit.

Seven days previously at Chesterfield, Pool went down 3-1, conceding three second-half goals from distance.

This time it was a different story as what shots did come in saw a black shirt get in front and close down the space.

"We spoke after Chesterfield and players have to put their bodies in front of shots and crosses. They didn't do it then but they did it at Bristol and we saw the difference.

"I reminded the players before the game that we had a couple of weeks until the next game. Having a week to wait for your next game after a bad result is a long time, two weeks means it really hurts.

"They took what I said on board and every one of them deserves a pat on the back. We know it has been difficult, but they were willing to work hard and got the rewards.

"We were under unbelievable pressure and getting the goal was a big boost for us.

"I thought we had to defend well, which we did and it was a new formation for us. Whether we play it again, I don't know, but the players took it on board.

"All the back four have came under a lot of pressure and a lot of stick because we have conceded sloppy goals. But we've kept two clean sheets now and this was a massive three points.''

And while the rearguard more than played their part, it was Pool's lone striker, Jon Daly, who was the key.

If the big man up front can't offer his team-mates an outlet to both hold the ball up and bring others into play, the formation won't work.

It's to Daly's credit that he did it so well in his return after missing the last two games with a hip injury.

"I was delighted with the response of the players. They took the new system on board and looked good for it, especially in the second half,'' admitted Scott.

"We were waiting on the fitness of Lee Bullock and Jon Daly and we didn't get them in until Friday morning, we couldn't train with them on Thursday.

"We spent an hour on Friday, which isn't long enough. But we felt it was the right way to go about things.

"It's a new formation and we've new players in the squad, young players have stepped up, and we haven't played thay formation before.

"As a manager I don't call it 4-5-1, I call it a 4-3-3! That's my outlook.

"Jon is the key to it and the balls played up to him are key as well. The balls have to be played well and played into him to get hold of it.''

The decisive goal came when Tony Sweeney challenged Dave Partridge for a Chris Llewellyn cross and the ball spun off the pair and into the path of Proctor, loitering with intent.

A confident volley flew low across keeper Steve Phillips into the far side of the net.

Before that, chances were few and far between for both teams. Konstantopoulos tipped a Scott Brown drive over the bar, while Phillips had little to do as Pool came to terms with their new set up.

City started with Marcus Stewart up front and a neat turn inside the penalty area seconds after the restart aside, he did little. After creating the space, he wasted it by blazing high over.

He was replaced and another former Sunderland striker was later introduced.

On this showing, perhaps it's just as well Michael Bridges didn't sign for Pool in the summer. He had three chances, sending a free header pitifully wide from six yards and two shots from 20 yards that only troubled the crowd behind the goal.

Konstantopoulos made a fine reaction stop to push out a stinging Brooker volley from eight yards, but Pool weren't going to let this one slip away.

Result: Bristol City 0, Hartlepool United 1.

Read more about Hartlepool here.