Peter Hartley and Luke James grabbed late goals to bring Pools back from a goal behind to make it 2-1 at The Vic this afternoon.
With 88 minutes on the clock, John Hughes’ men looked to have lost out to an early controversial penalty.
But Hartley’s header on 88 and sub James’ 95th-minute strike gave Pools a much-needed victory that lifted them off the bottom of League One.
It was an unfortunate case of déjà vu for Pools early at The Vic this afternoon as once again a contentious penalty was awarded.
With just 6 minutes on the clock, the lively visitors burst down the left, taking the ball to the byline. But as the ball was played into the box, Neil Austin slid along the ground feet first to make the challenge.
As he slid across, the ball hit the defender’s hand – completely without his knowledge – but the official Mr Duncan awarded the penalty kick, once again igniting the ‘deliberate’ handball debate.
Martin Rowlands stepped up to take the spot kick and hit home the tenth penalty awarded at The Vic so far this season.
Clearly aggrieved by the decision – and several others that followed, Pools looked determined for a spell afterward, with both players and supporters showing their frustration.
Jonathan Franks bombed down the right to lift a ball into the box but while his cross seemed to strike the hand of Scott Cuthbert, no decision arrived and Pools were left to take a corner kick.
An Evan Horwood corner from the left sailed into the box where Jack Baldwin arrived to hit it at goal but his shot took a touch off the defender before hitting another red shirt on the hand. Once again though, Pools received no support for their appeals and play continued.
As the frustrating died down, it was Orient who looked the more likely to add to the scoresheet.
Whenever Pools did pick up possession, they seemed to hit a wall of red shirts and the pressure returned to the back.
Lee Cook’s freekick into the area was headed over the bar, while a looping header from Shaun Batt had to be tipped over the bar by Scott Flinders.
Pools did have the occasional effort on goal; a Horwood cross into the box found Franks at the far post but his powerful volley was blocked bravely by Gary Sawyer and Franks had a second chance shortly after but this time found only the arms of Jamie Jones.
With Sam Collins looking strong at the back and Jack Baldwin once again shining in midfield, Pools did show some promise in the first half but would need much more after the break if they were to get back into this game.
But the fightback didn’t look likely just after the break as the game became flat and Huhges’ men struggled to create anything to really test the visitors.
There was a long stoppage in the game as Orient defender Gary Sawyer underwent treatment before being carried off the field.
During that time Hughes made two changes to his team, bringing on Andy Monkhouse and Steve Howard in place of James Poole and Simon Walton.
And the two subs combined nicely shortly after the –re-start to give Pools a rare effort on goal.
Howard rose well to head the ball into the path of Monkhouse and the winger unleashed a snapshot on goal that took two attempts for Jones to control.
Jonathan Franks – who threatened the Orient goal most this afternoon – took a neat touch inside the area to send a stinging effort at Jones but he dragged the ball just wide of the near post.
Evan Horwood’s freekick from distance caused Jones the most trouble this afternoon, forcing the visiting keeper into a last-gasp grab to keep it out of the top corner.
The game opened up more with the change in personnel for Pools and with 88 minutes on the clock, the breakthrough finally arrived.
A great corner in from Evan Horwood found skipper Peter Hartley at the far post and he made no mistake with a thunderous header which smashed into the roof of the net to make it 1-1.
The announcement of 5 minutes added time was met with roars from the home crowd who wanted to see the team push on for more from this game.
And more they got as a good break down the left involving Horwood and Monkhouse saw the former send a ball across the face of goal where it arrived back out to the feet of sub Luke James. And the youngster smashed the ball through a crowd and into the back of the net to send the home players and fans wild.
A fantastic end to the game this afternoon as Pools make it 5 matches unbeaten, move off the bottom of the table and close the gap to survival to 8 points.
Full Time: Pools 2 Leyton Orient 1
Att: 3773 (146 Leyton Orient)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Walton (Howard 61), Baldwin, Humphreys, Franks (James 80), Wyke, Poole (Monkhouse 61)
Subs Not Used: McHugh, Holden, Luscombe, Rutherford, James
Leyton Orient: Jones, Sawyer (Clarke 63), Cuthbert, Baudry, MacDonald, Odubajo, Cook, Rowlands, James, Batt (Vincelot 88), Mooney (Smith 80)
Subs Not Used: McSweeney, Griffith, Grainger, Omozusi