Hartlepool United 2 Charlton Athletic 1

AFTER the disappointment of their performance at Brighton at the weekend came the satisfaction of a win over Charlton Athletic.

The up and down nature of Hartlepool United's season continues and, instead of looking over their shoulders like they were on Saturday night, they are now looking up.

Nine points ahead of the relegation zone after this thumping victory, they are six points off the play-offs.

With home games to come in the coming week with MK Dons and Southampton, this was the perfect way to start.

“It's three home games in a week for us and we've a good win - I'm greedy I want nine points from this run,'' said Mick Wadsworth. “But the important thing is to put performances back-to-back and now we look at the tiredness and strain on the players before we take on MK Dons on Saturday.

“There was never really a period when they were on top, we were generally the better team.

“I'm thrilled for everyone, it was a really good game at a high-tempo. It's not being unfair to Charlton, but we deserved this win.

“Excellence is simplicity done well and that's what we did tonight.''

Ryan Donaldson started up front, and gave his best display for the club to date, and his run across the edge of the area was cynically halted.

Evan Horwood's clipped free-kick hit the underside of the bar and Andy Monkhouse turned to fire in the rebound for a great start to a great game.

Pools failed to clear the ball with any conviction on 21 minutes, and Johnnie Jackson had an opening, but could only fire against the Town End roof.

Wadsworth's side weren't affected by Saturday's whacking, as they played with confidence on the front foot.

Donaldson looked far happier with someone alongside him up front after two starts since moving from Newcastle as a lone striker and he was always trying to link up with James Brown.

But he should have put Pools two up on 41 minutes. A piledriver from Antony Sweeney, scouted last night by Middlesbrough assistant boss Mark Venus, was pushed out by diving goalkeeper Rob Elliott into his path, but he pushed his effort wide of en empty goal.

Peter Hartley admitted he was one of many below par at the weekend, but he was dominant last night. The one time he was beaten in the first-half came when Pawel Abbott shielded him off, and Bradley Wright-Phillips stole into space down the flank.

His cross was dangerous, but Steve Haslam covered the ball away.

Wright-Phillips drew a save from Scott Flinders seconds after the restart, his low snap-shot smothered.

But Flinders was beaten when Abbott chased a long ball with Sam Collins and chipped into the area. Nathan Eccleston's touch turned the ball around Steve Haslam and he made no mistake.

Donaldson looked like giving Pools a swift leveller when he turned Monkhouse's cross wide from eight yards.

But Gary Liddle headed Pools back in front. Sweeney's tenacity – he was full of it last night - on the right won a corner for Horwood to ping over for the midfielder to nod in number four of the season.

The Addicks went close to an 80th minute leveller, Eccleston's shot turned onto the bar by Hartley.

But Pools saw the game off, and enjoyed a deserved victory.


Goals: Monkhouse (13, 1-0); Eccleston (54, 1-1); Liddle (62, 2-1)
: Fry (19, foul), Collins (75, foul), Jenkinson (86, foul), Murray (90, foul)
: Steve Rushton (Stoke) 6
Attendance: 2,289
: ****

HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Flinders 6; Haslam 7, Collins 6, Hartley 8, Horwood 7; SWEENEY 8 (McSweeney 88), Murray 7, Liddle 7, Monkhouse 7; Donaldson 7 (Humphreys 80), Brown 6 (Larkin 70, 6). Subs (not used): Rafferty (gk), McSweeney, Gamble, Boyd, Yantorno.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Elliot 5; Francis 6 (Jenkinson 53, 5), DAILLY 7, Doherty 6, Fry 5; Eccleston 7, Semedo 6, McCormack 5 (Reid 67, 6), Jackson 5; Abbott 7, Wright-Phillips 6. Subs (not used): Llera, Wagstaff, Solly, Reid, Fortune, Worner.

ANTONY Sweeney – even by his energetic standards he put some shift in last night.