Pools turned in a Halloween horror show at AFC Wimbledon as The Dons made it three wins in a row with a 2-0 triumph at The Cherry Red Records Stadium.
A first half to give fans nightmares was at the heart of the defeat for Pools, who conceded goals to Callum Kennedy and Lyle Taylor to give themselves a mountain to climb after the break.
And while there was improvement in the performance in the second half, the visitors had Trevor Carson to thank for a string of wonderful saves, while Taylor also missed the chance to extend The Dons’ lead from the spot.
Ronnie Moore made three changes to his starting line-up, bringing in Matthew Bates to replace the suspended Scott Harrison while Michael Duckworth returned at right-back in place of the injured Luke Hendrie.
In midfield, Michael Woods was preferred as a partner to Nicky Featherstone which meant Brad Walker had to be content with a place among the substitutes.
It was a quiet opening period as both sides felt each other out in the early stages without any real scares inside the final thirds.
The Dons tried a corner routine from the training ground which provided Lyle Taylor with the chance to drive on goal but his low effort went wide of the target.
However, on eighteen minutes the host grabbed the lead. Dan Jones left George Francomb in a heap on the right touchline and full-back Callum Kennedy went across to send the free-kick in to the box, which evaded everyone before bouncing ten yards from goal and in to the top corner of Trevor Carson’s goal.
The breakthrough spurred the home side on and they could even have snatched a second when Danny Bulman’s deflected shot momentarily wrong-footed Carson but the keeper re-adjusted in time to collect the ball.
Carson was busy again on 25 minutes when the dangerous Francomb drove inside from the right and let fly with a powerful low drive which the Northern Irish international keeper did brilliantly to flick round the post.
Michael Woods did muster Pools first effort on target but his drive was easily held by keeper Ben Wilson and moments later the Dons doubled their advantage with a fine strike at the other end.
With Pools struggling to clear their lines the ball found itself at the feet of Taylor and he struck a crisp volley from the right corner of the box across Carson and in to the net via the far post.
The afternoon was going from bad to worse for Pools and Magnus Okuonghae was then forced off through injury meaning an reshuffle at the back for Moore – Dan Jones moved to centre-back, Carroll reverted to left-back and Kudus Oyenuga was introduced on to the left wing.
Pools were struggling to retain possession and put anything meaningful together in Wimbledon territory and Francomb sent another warning shot when his low effort slipped just wide of Carson’s post on the brink of half time.
With the words of boss Moore ringing in their ears, Pools began the second period with a bit more fight; Carroll seeing a free-kick deflected side from distance as they looked for a route back in to the game.
The Dons re-iterated their threat at the other end though when Adebayo Azeez got free just inside the area and prodded an effort on goal which looked to be creeping in, only for Carson to fling himself to his right and brilliantly claw it out at the base of the post.
Carson was the only contender for Man of the Match in Pools colours and he underlined his claims again on 65 minutes when Kennedy’s free-kick popped up kindly for Jon Meades six yards out and the keeper somehow pawed away the midfielder’s point-blank header.
The summer signing was keeping Pools’ hopes of a comeback alive and was inspired again moments later when substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa set Jake Reeves through on goal, this time staying big to deal with the midfielder’s deflected shot.
Oyenuga was then harshly adjudged to have fouled Taylor in the box and a penalty was awarded - only for the Dons front man to hit the post from twelve yards before Carson incredibly palmed away Bulman’s follow-up which had looked a certain goal.
Carson was beaten seconds later when Akinfenwa bundled the ball in to the net but the referee spotted that the striker had used to much of his brute strength and disallowed the goal.
Pools responded to the double let-off by carving out some of their best chances; a desperate Paul Robinson defensive header scraped Wilson’s post and from the resultant corner the keeper pawed Paynter’s back post header round the post.
Carroll whipped the ball in from the right and the hosts struggled to clearand when the ball fell Oyenuga’s way his acrobatic overhead attempt grazed the cross bar.
Nicky Featherstone had a shout for Pools’ own penalty with ten minutes left when he drove with determination in to the box, but as he squeezed between two defenders and went down the referee turned away.
The efforts to get back in to the game fizzled out with that and Pools were left to make the long journey back to the north-east empty-handed.
Full Time: AFC Wimbledon 2 Pools 0
AFC Wimbledon: Wilson, Fuller, Robinson, Osbourne, Meades, Bulman, Reeves (Toonga 91), Francomb, Kennedy, Taylor (Elliott 82), Azeez (Akinfenwa 59).
Subs not used: McDonnell, Sweeney, Gallagher, Kaja.
Pools: Carson, Duckworth, Bates, Okuonghae (Oyenuga 37), Jones, Oates, Woods, Featherstone, Carroll, Bingham (Fenwick 67), Paynter (Banton 87).
Subs not used: Bartlett, Walker, Nelson-Addy, Smith.
Attendance: 3,638 (255 Poolies)
Booked: Carroll, Fenwick.