HARTLEPOOL UNITED completed their season with a complete performance as they beat Salford City 3-2 – ending any automatic promotion hopes for the visitors.

Leyton Orient are National League champions and return to the Football League after Pools swept the visitors away.

Pools finish the season in 17th place, but can go into the summer with hope after this performance and victory.

The visitors had to hope Orient lost and swing around a five-goal deficit in goal difference.

And it looked promising as they scored after just two minutes.

Pools back line were beaten by an offside-looking Rooney who headed past Scott Loach.

The keeper then made a fine one-handed save to keep out a certain second as Pools started poorly.

But, up against a physical side who were reduced to ten men in first-half injury time when striker Green was booked for a second time, Pools soon improved and started to compete.

After Green’s dismissal – and centre-half Piergianni could have been sent off in the first half for a lunge on Luke James – Pools levelled on 50 minutes.

Nicky Featherstone started the move on halfway and pressed forward to the penalty area. He collected Nicke Kabamba’s nod down and swept home.

They took the lead when keeper Neal stopped a Liam Noble effort and the ball squirmed loose for Kabamaba to net a simple tap in.

Luke James, the supporters’ player of the year, picked his spot to push home a third.

The visitors were well beaten, but got one back at the end through substitute Dieseruvwe’s close-range finish.

Pools left to a rousing ovation from the home faithful.

Boss Hignett said: “We got a response, what we wanted. I felt we were brilliant, against ten or 11.

“We started slow and it took us ten minutes to get going and then we were the better side.

“It was a sending-off, second yellow and caught Scott’s ankles. We then had to do a professional job and, for me, they are the best in the division.

“There had to be a response from Monday, the lads today showed what it meant to end the season well.

“They are as good as you get and they will steamroller it next season if they don’t go up.

“I knew we wouldn’t go up and we had to be more of a threat.

“The goals we scored were very good, smart finishes, three good goals and let in two sloppy ones – but I will take the win, four of five at home.

“I’m really pleased with how the season ended, apart from Barrow.''

HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-3-3): Loach; Kioso (Richardson 88), Edgar (Holohan 42), Anderson, Kitching; Featherstone, Donaldson, Noble (Hakwes 88); Molyneux, Kabamba, James. Subs: Muir, Bale.

SALFORD (3-4-1-2): Neal; Hogan, Maynard, Piergianni (Linganzi 70); Wiseman, Mafut, (Redmond 66), Whitehead, Green; Lloyd; Green, Rooney (Dieseruvwe 63).

Subs: Crocombe (gk), Walker.