Fleetwood Town 2 Hartlepool United 3

WHAT better example of the magic of the FA Cup than two goals from Hartlepool United’s very own magician?

Michael Mackay was given a chance to impress in Saturday’s game at Fleetwood Town, a team some 75 places below Pools in the Football pyramid.

At a ground shrouded in fog thicker than the soup on sale at the catering huts, on a pitch which resembled a traditional farmer’s field, and in front of the ITV cameras who were there for one reason and one reason only – and it wasn’t a win for Danny Wilson’s side – Pools were up against all the ingredients which add up to a cup shock.

“With the atmosphere and the day like it was, it was made for an upset – thankfully it didn’t happen. It was a proper cup tie,’’ admitted Wilson.

“We couldn’t really win could we? If we lost then it’s an upset, we won and people expected it.’’ That they earned a third round tie at home to Stoke was down to Mackay.

The former Consett striker, who keeps his team-mates occupied on long journeys by performing tricks of illusion, conjured up his own magic show in front of the Highbury Stadium crowd.

After Pools fell behind to another goal, which was unnecessarily conceded, he drilled home three minutes later to level before his announced it was his day with a statement bigger than any shout of abracadabra.

Taking Antony Sweeney’s ball he took a touch before turning and arcing a goal of the round contender into the net.

“Michael could have had four or five, Joel (Porter) too perhaps, but I think Michael will be happy with two for now,’’ said Wilson. “There’s two sides of winning – the financial prospects of a good third round tie and a good draw, the second is that the players want to progress as far as we can.

“Michael played well and he’s not done himself any harm. He was a threat all day and his pace and enthusiasm saw to that.

“He lacks certain parts of his game, but his finishes were spot on. He scored two good goals, but they played a high line against us and we knew that Michael’s pace could cause problems – we are delighted he did that.’’ Now, instead of keeping his teammates busy on the bus journey home with his Paul Daniels impressions, Mackay could have regaled them with goalscoring tales.

“It was costing me too much anyway, I had to buy all the tricks – maybe I need a trick to start taking money off the lads,’’ he joked.

Two years ago, Mackay was busy scoring 43 goals for Consett, before joining the professional ranks. He has an eye for the spectacular finish, his second on Saturday was up there with his special goal at Yeovil 12 months ago.

“At Brighton (in the last round) I should have scored in the first half but I missed a good opportunity,’’ he admitted.

“On Saturday I had to take my chance when it came and hopefully I will get a few more chances.

“I definitely enjoyed scoring the two goals, especially the second one in front of our fans. I got a ball over the top in behind the defence and caught it right and it just sneaked in, but if there’s anything round the box I have a go and I caught that one and it flew over the keeper.’’ And, after going in at the break all square, Mackay admitted: “The manager wasn’t very happy at half-time and said we needed to be a bit more composed on the ball.

“He thought with the atmosphere, we would need to deal with the situation and we did and got the win in the end.

“It was more of a relief at 3- 1 because their fans were up for it and with it being a full house, they raised their game an extra 10 or 20 per cent.

“I’ve played at grounds like this before and I know the pitches are going to be a bit bobbly so you just have to keep gambling on pass backs and balls between the defence.’’ It was balls between the defence which proved Pools downfall at the other end.

First a quickly taken freekick was knocked long in between Micky Nelson and Ben Clark and Andy Bell’s composed finish put the parttimers in front.

After Mackay and Joel Porter turned the game around – and after the Aussies’ tap-in, Pools should have killed the game off – another ball played forward behind the back four saw Adam Warlow get around Nelson and across Clark before clipping into the net.

There was the odd halfchance and a couple of nervy moments, but Pools saw the game out.

The visitors should have been reduced to ten men in injury time.

Ricky Mercer jumped into Arran Lee-Barrett with a leading arm and the Pools keeper, after a free-kick went in his favour, swung an elbow in his opponent’s direction.

Referee Clive Oliver only booked the goalkeeper, with Wilson admitting he was fortunate not to be red-carded.

Job done, however, and Pools now have to start planning for the long throw ins of Stoke’s Rory Delap.