Pools ended the season with their heaviest defeat of the season as promotion-chasing Plymouth Argyle scored five unanswered goals at Home Park.
Craig Hignett had drafted Rob Jones back in to the centre of defence in the absence of Matthew Bates and played a slightly different shape in the game against Argyle, who were already guaranteed a play-off spot.
The visitors were roared on by 521 fanatical followers, many of whom had made the near-350 mile journey dressed as Stormtroopers – but they were to feel the full force of their hosts on the final afternoon of the campaign.
Pools began the game on the front foot and knocking the ball around well, Dan Jones had a half chance from a corner when it was played in low to the edge of the area but he struck his shot wide.
Hignett’s men got even closer from another left-wing corner moments later when Adam Jackson rose highest to head an effort on goal but Hiram Boateng was back on the line to make sure it didn’t find the net.
And then, with Argyle’s first foray forward, they took the lead on six minutes; Tyler Harvey found the ball at his feet in space thirty yards from goal and decided to let fly – and his low shot fizzed past Trevor Carson and in to the far bottom corner of the net.
Michael Woods had a half chance to bring Pools back on level terms when Argyle struggled to deal with a corner and Nathan Thomas lifted the ball in to the midfielder’s path but his shot was well blocked by Curtis Nelson and debutant keeper Vincent Dorel dived on the loose ball.
Thomas was beginning to get on the ball more for Pools though and he created an opening for himself when he drove infield from the right but his lacked power and was held easily by Dorel.
Argyle winger Craig Tanner got the better of Dan Jones moment later as he found an avenue in to the edge of the penalty area but then drove his left-footed shot wide of the near post.
A slack clearance from Rob Jones allowed Gregg Wylde to run at the Pools back four but Jones got across to atone for his error with an excellent block and then Carson produced a wonderful save to deny Louis Rooney from the rebound.
But on 25 minutes there was nothing Carson could do as this time Wylde capitalised on a poor switched ball from Thomas to run in behind Lewis Hawkins on the left. He lifted his head and then chipped an inch-perfect ball to the far post where Harvey arrived just in front of Nicky Featherstone to
prod in his second goal of the afternoon.
Thomas could have brought Pools back in to contention before the break after again moving the ball on to his left foot after darting in from the right but this time his firmly-struck curler was well pawed away by Dorel.
Pools were dealt a double blow at the break as both Rob Jones and Carl Magnay were forced off with injury, Jordan Richards came on at left-back, Jake Gray was drafted in to midfield and Hawkins dropped in to the right-back role.
After a slow start to the second period, Pools had the first real opening when Paynter did well to turn the ball round the corner for Gray but his powerful shot was well turned away by Dorel.
However, just before the hour mark a long ball forward fell kindly in to the path of Louis Rooney and he took a touch and then lashed an unstoppable dipping volley over Carson and in to the net for 3-0.
Just three minutes later it was over as a contest when a left-wing corner was sent deep to the far post and Argyle skipper Curtis Nelson nodded in a fourth goal for the home side.
Gray drove another shot wide for Pools as they recovered some of their composure, while the on-loan midfielder came close again after linking up well with Featherstone and Woods but his shot stung the side-netting.
Woods got the ball in an advanced area on the left side of the penalty area and fed it across low for Paynter but the skipper’s first-time goalbound effort was well blocked.
Luke James could also have pulled one back when the low ball across from Gray on the right found the loan star on the left side of the box, but his shot lacked the power to really trouble Dorel.
With seven minutes left the hosts underlined their victory with a fifth goal; the dangerous Wylde escaped down the left and cut the ball back in to the box and the initial shot was blocked and the bzll ricocheted up in the air to Rooney who gleefully nodded in his second off the post.
Paynter and James both tested Dorel in the closing stages but Argyle should probably have made it 6-0 near the end when substitute Graham Carey wriggled through the defence only to place an effort wide.
Full Time: Plymouth Argyle 5 Pools 0
Attendance: 10, 019 (521 Pools)
Plymouth Argyle: Dorel, Mellor, Nelson (Bentley 66), Forster, Sawyer, Tanner, Purrington, Boateng (Carey 78), Wylde, Harvey, Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Jervis, Matt, McCormick.
Pools: Carson, Magnay (Richards 46), R Jones (Gray 46), Jackson, D Jones, Hawkins, Featherstone, Woods, James, Paynter, Thomas (Walker 71).
Subs Not Used:Bartlett, Bingham, Oates, Laurent.