Pools battled to a 1-0 victory over a determined AFC Wimbledon at Victoria Park this afternoon.
Pools fought all the way to the final whistle to keep the visitors out as the Dons pushed Craig Hignett's men hard in search of an equaliser to cancel out Adam Jackson's first-half goal.
It was the visitors who looked the brightest for much of the first half as Pools just failed to click into gear. But even though Craig Hignett’s men did not quite find their flow in the first forty-five, it was Pools who lead by half-time. The visitors pressed Pools well, hurrying play and giving the home side little time on the ball. Lyle Taylor was a real threat for AFC Wimbledon, pushing forward from all angles and working the Pools back line hard. Carl Magnay showed a calm head to chest the ball into the arms of Trevor Carson as a cross fizzed into the box from the right wing, while Matthew Bates put in a perfectly-timed challenge to steal the ball away from Rhys Murphy inside the box. At the other end, Kelle Roos did really well to get his hands to an ambitious cross/shot from Nathan Thomas on the right. With a cross sailing towards the edge of the box for George Francomb, Carson flew through the air to send an acrobatic headed clearance upfield to leave the Dons striker both grounded and bemused. Just minutes later and Pools got their goal; a Luke James strike bounced back up nicely for Adam Jackson who sent a very well-placed header past Roos and into the far corner of the net to give his side the lead – albeit against the run of play. While it was Pools who lead, the visitors maintained their edge and a long-range effort from Dannie Bulman sent Carson scrambling back towards his goal to shepherd it out at the far post. It was Pools who went on to have the next best effort on goal as Billy Paynter squared for Luke James and the hard-working forward spun well to fire at goal only to be denied by the post as his shot cannoned away from target. Wimbledon had their best chance of the game just before the break; Taylor broke down the left and managed to get his cross in under good pressure from Magnay but the final ball was just too high for the waiting Murphy. Nicky Featherstone did well to force a Francomb chance wide and Trevor Carson saved well from Taylor before the break and Pools took their one-goal lead into the second half. The second half started much as the first had, with the Dons throwing men forward and pushing for a goal. Although quieter than in the first half, Luke James offered the main outlet for Pools with his non-stop running and positivity. But the majority of the action came at the other end as Pools were pushed back for much of the half. Trevor Carson saved through a crowd to deny sub Tom Elliott from a Francomb corner, while James helped out with the defence, running clear after stealing possession inside the box. Sub Michael Woods did his part to lift the home crowd as he battled his way forward, skipping over a couple of challenges to ease the pressure at the other end. There were blocks from Bates and Magnay as the visitors upped the pressure on goal again and the tension inside The Vic rose. The Dons were showing a real determination in their approach and there was no let-up for Pools who faced attack after attack. Adam Jackson, who along with Matthew Bates were real rocks this afternoon, headed clear under pressure from sub Adebayo Akinfenwa as Pools faced yet another strong spell of pressure, pinned back in their own half but showing a steel of their own to keep the visitors out. In the four minutes of added time, Magnay blocked bravely inside the box before Carson pulled off another save through a crowded box to deny the visitors a late equaliser. The Dons won a corner late into added time and threw keeper Kelle Roos up such was their desperation for that goal but the ball was blazed high over the stand and Pools held on for victory. The result sees Pools go five league games unbeaten, with three clean sheets in succession and move 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Full Time: Pools 1 AFC Wimbledon 0 Attendance: 4365 (259 AFC Wimbledon) Pools: Carson, Magnay (Richards 93), Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone, Gray (Woods 59), Hawkins, James, Paynter, Thomas (Oates 83). Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Walker, Bingham, Laurent. AFC Wimbledon: Roos, Fuller, Meades, Sweeney, Charles, Francomb, Barcham (Akinfenwa 71), Bulman, Reeves, Murphy (Elliott 59), Taylor (Azeez 71). Subs Not Used: Shea, Kennedy, Rigg, Fitzpatrick.