Pools are out of the relegation zone after making it four wins in succession with a 2-1 victory over Cambridge United at a bouncing Victoria Park this afternoon.
Goals from Brad Walker and Scott Harrison gave Ronnie Moore’s side the win and lifted Pools off the bottom of the league for the first time since October 25th 2014.
The strong winds was the early winner at The Vic and Pools were slowest to get to grips with the conditions as Cambridge edged the first ten minutes. The visitors were direct in approach and the Pools back line had to contend with some early balls into the box as well as the wind. Pools won a corner after good work by new loan signing Jordan Hugill and this gave Moore’s side something to build on; a good delivery by Jonathan Franks caused a scramble inside the box with both Brad Walker and David Mirfin trying to force it home before Cambridge were able to clear. Franks was in good form for Pools, putting some good crosses in from both sides and causing the visiting defence some real problems with his constant running and chasing. And it was one of Franks’ crosses that lead to the opening goal; the forward sent a lovely ball in from the left which Dunn punched out only as far as Brad Walker who sent a header back past the keeper and into the back of the net. Hugill looked to get a touch on the ball as it crossed the line but it was Walker who claimed the goal. Just minutes later and there was a let-off for Pools as a Liam Hughes strike beat Flinders but crashed against the post and back into play. Both sides were enjoying their share of possession but it was Cambridge who were next to find the back of the net; one of many first-half long throws from the visitors caused a problem at the near post for Pools. With Flinders down at the post trying to keep it out, Matt Harrold somehow squeezed the ball home to make it 1-1 on 32 minutes. The game quietened down after the equaliser and it was the visitors who looked the more likely but, as has been the case in recent games, Pools defended strongly and went on to finish the half on top. And it was another Franks corner that gave Pools a chance in the final seconds of the half as he picked out the hard-working Hugill who saw his volley from close range go over the bar. Moore’s side came out brightly after the break and Franks had a decent chance himself after being set up by Walker; the midfielder lifted a ball forward for Franks to chase down but, after winning the race for the ball, Franks sent his effort just wide of the near post. Franks, who was busy this afternoon, had another chance on 56 minutes when he broke in from the left to shoot but this time he was denied by Dunn in The U's goal.Pools were finding plenty of space with the long ball over the top which seemed to be opening the visitors up and giving Moore’s side a route to goal and both Franks and Hugill, who linked up really well this afternoon, were doing the hard work in chasing forward. And Pools' determination in this second half paid off on 67 minutes when another corner in from Franks fell for Scott Harrison and the big defender showed a touch of class and composure as he sent a powerful volley back through the crowd and into the back of the net. Harrold had a chance to get things level once again on 72 minutes as he broke into the box from the left but the Cambridge striker sent his low shot wide of the far post. Back at the other end and Jonathan Franks was there again, this time twisting and turning into the box to send a strike across goal which scraped narrowly wide of the far post. There were a few injuries and substitutions which lead to a stop-start spell of the game and just took Pools out of their stride for a time. One of these substitutes Jordan Slew had a chance to equalise for Cambridge but his low shot was held by Scott Flinders. With only a goal to separate the teams, the final minutes inside The Vic were extremely tense and, as has been the case of late for Pools, there were plenty of minutes added on to hold onto the lead. This time Moore’s men faced eight added minutes. This included two Cambridge United corners which saw their keeper Chris Dunn go up for but Ryan Donaldson sent his shot high over the bar with the first and Scott Flinders rose to collect the second. Pools had chances for Walker, Harewood and Franks in the added time but they weren’t needed and the game finished 2-1. Moore’s side now sit one point outside of the relegation zone after picking up their fourth successive victory. Full Time: Pools 2 Cambridge United 1 Attendance: 5009 (269 Cambridge United) Booked: Walker (90) Pools: Flinders, Duckworth, Harrison, Mirfin, D Jones, Austin, Featherstone, Walker, Tshibola (Hawkins 79), Franks, Hugill (Harewood 87). Subs Not Used: Maxted, Richards, Nelson-Addy, J Jones, Smith. Cambridge United: Dunn, Dunk, Coulson, Miller, Tait (Simpson 68), Hunt (Kaikai 76), Champion, Hughes, Donaldson, Elliott, Harrold (Slew 76). Subs Not Used: Norris, Lanzoni, Nelson, Morrissey.