Goals from Scott Fenwick and Rakish Bingham gave Pools their first three points since the win at Exeter City in October and handed Ronnie Moore’s side a much-needed boost.
Pools dominated the majority of the game and were worthy winners on a blustery afternoon at The Vic.
Jonathan Franks was first to try his luck on goal in the opening minutes as he cut inside from the right to send a low shot at Trevor Carson but the visiting keeper showed good reactions to hold on to it. Jack Compton was next to send an effort towards goal as he fired in from the edge of the box but his shot went just wide of the near post as Pools continued to press. Pools dominated the early play and showed promise at times going forward; Michael Woods was in dogged mood in the middle of the pitch and he put in several solid challenges to fire on his side. At the other end, Scott Harrison was dominant for Pools, winning everything in the air and providing a real presence in front of Scott Flinders. And Harrison went close to opening the scoring when he met a Franks corner on 19 minutes to power a header at goal. Matt Richards blocked on the line to deny the defender with a good effort. Cheltenham showed flashes going forward, with Jack Dunn having their best chance as he nipped into the box from the right to shoot on goal but Flinders got down well to block the shot. Scott Fenwick had a chance for Pools on 23 minutes after good work by Woods but the Pools striker saw his final shot go straight into the arms of Carson when in a good position. The Pools striker did better with his next effort though, making it 1-0 on 39 minutes; great work down the left by Jack Compton caught everyone out at the back as he sent an early ball across goal and Fenwick reacted quickest to poke it home and give his side the lead at the back post. After a stronger first half from Pools, the team left the pitch to cheers from the home fans for the first time in some weeks as there was hope of much-needed victory for Moore’s side this afternoon. Cheltenham had the ball in the back of the net within minutes of the re-start but the effort was ruled out by the linesman’s flag and Pools were let-off as the visitors started brightly. Scott Harrison was the busiest Pools player in the first few minutes of the second half but the defender was a real rock at the back and cleared the danger time after time. And after weathering the early storm Pools were back on top and the pressure was at the right end of the pitch. Rakish Bingham tried a shot on the turn from the left side of the area which was held in the air by Carson before Scott Fenwick met a low free-kick from Compton to shoot on goal only to see it blocked on the line by Lloyd Jones. Fenwick had another chance shortly after when played in by Franks who had twisted into space down the right; the Pools striker turned to fire a shot at goal but his effort went just wide of the near post. After a big spell of pressure by the visitors, Pools used the break to great effect and made it 2-0; Aaron Tshibola picked out fellow loan man Rakish Bingham with a good ball forward. Bingham then exchanged a lovely 1-2 with Woods before collecting the ball and sending a perfectly-placed, low strike past Carson to give Pools a two-goal lead. Pools continued to press after the goal and Fenwick – who seemed determined to add to his tally this afternoon – was back in the box as he pushed in to shoot from the left only to be denied by Carson. Dan Jones had the ball in the back of the net on 75 minutes from a decent cross from Compton but the linesman flag was up to rule it out for offside. Pools were well on top now, with Woods and Tshibola both impressing in the centre and Fenwick proving a nuisance for the visiting defence. There was a late scare for Pools as Cheltenham pushed forward in numbers but the woodwork came to the rescue as the ball looped up against the post and Dan Jones was able to clear. Shortly afterwards, Man of the Match Harrison was lucky not to score an own goal as his attempted headed clearance crashed off the bar on its way over. It was a professional performance from Pools, with a number of stand-out performances on the day and in the end a well-deserved three points - and a first clean sheet in fifteen attempts in the league. Full Time: Pools 2 Cheltenham Town 0Att: 3155 (117 Cheltenham Town) Booked: Harrison (90) Pools: Flinders, Duckworth, Harrison, Jones, Austin, Franks, Tshibola, Woods, Compton, Bingham, Fenwick. Subs Not Used: Maxted, Nearney, Bates, Holden, Walker, Featherstone, Richards. Cheltenham Town: Carson, Vaughan, Braham-Barrett, Brown, Ferdinand, Richards, Gornell (Williams 69), Sterling-James (Harrison 54), Stewart, Dunn, Jones. Subs Not Used: Haworth, Deaman, Hanks, Kotwica, Williams, Reynolds.