Pools made it seven games unbeaten with a 2-1 victory over Mansfield Town at The Vic this afternoon.
Two goals from Club skipper Billy Paynter – both from the penalty spot – saw Craig Hignett’s side carry on their recent run of good form in a tough test against a determined Mansfield side.
And Paynter looked to mark his 500th career appearance with an early goal this afternoon; the striker rose in space to meet a good cross in from Carl Magnay on the right but sent his header over the bar in the fourth minute. Matt Green was first to try his luck for the visitors, watching his glancing header go just wide of the far post after being set up by Matt Blair. It was an energetic start to the game from both teams but it was the visitors who edged the early play and had the most chances on goal. Nathan Thomas, in real determined mood against his former team this afternoon, sent in the first of a succession of crosses from the left on 20 minutes. The cross picked out Billy Paynter who sent a header bouncing up towards goal which again went over the bar. Shortly after though, Paynter had his moment and the 14th goal of the season. Nicky Featherstone broke through the backline to run clear into the box and, just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was felled by Krystian Pearce. The referee pointed to the spot and showed the Mansfield defender a red card for his challenge. Paynter then stepped up to take the penalty, making no mistake as he squeezed it past Scott Shearer and into the bottom corner to make it 1-0. Pools enjoyed a real strong spell of pressure following the goal and could easily have doubled their lead. Paynter had two quick chances to score again, first hitting the post after great work by the impressive Luke James and then seeing another blocked out by the defender. Jake Gray went on a powerful run, pushing past numerous black shirts before being denied his final shot. James resurrected the pressure though as he set up Thomas who curled a shot just wide of the far post. Nathan Thomas, who was on a real mission this afternoon, added an extra edge to this game, and there were some real solid tackles going throughout the game. Mansfield again found extra pressure as the half-time whistle approached and had a couple of chances to draw level. Su Dan Alfei first saw his shot across goal collected by Trevor Carson at the far post and the Pools keeper did the same with a Jack Thomas strike. It was an action-packed first half but there was only one goal to separate the teams going into the break and there was the potential for more drama in the second forty-five. Despite being down to ten men, Mansfield Town maintained a positive approach in the second half and continued to push Pools back, looking for an equaliser. And the visitors upped their pressure as the half went on, showing more belief and determination to break through. Trevor Carson pulled off two great saves to help his side hold on to the lead; he first denied Matt Green with a brilliant one-handed stop on the line before somehow managing to keep out Ryan Tafazolli at the post with another top save. There was the odd respite for Pools and Nicky Featherstone had a low drive deflected just wide, while both James and Gray linked up well to break forward but Shearer took charge and denied a shot. But the majority of the second half was dominated by Town, who showed no ill effect to being a man down and their reward came on 76 minutes as they finally found a way past Carson. A long throw into the box from the left hit a crowded penalty area and Colin Daniel made no mistake with a powerful strike into the top corner to make it 1-1 on 79 minutes. Michael Woods came on for Pools in the 81st minute and he got stuck straight into the action, pushing deep with the ball, holding off the close attentions of the defender and forcing the ball out into the path of the arriving Carl Magnay. And, as Magnay ran into the box, he was tripped by Malvind Benning and once again the referee was quick to award the penalty. And once again Billy Paynter stepped up and smashed the ball home to give Pools a lead that had looked unlikely for much of the second half. Trevor Carson pulled off one more wonder save to cap his hat-trick and guarantee the three points for his side to stretch the unbeaten run to seven games. Final Score: Pools 2 Mansfield Town 1 Attendance: 3893(314 Mansfield Town) Booked: Thomas (24), Bates (73), Carroll (88) Pools: Carson, Magnay, Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Featherstone, Hawkins, Gray, James, Paynter, Thomas (R Jones 69). Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Richards, R Jones, Walker, Woods, Oates, Bingham. Mansfield Town: Shearer, Collins, Pearce, Chapman, Dieseruvwe (Alfei 29 (Beardsley 86)), Benning, Tafazolli, Green, Clements (Daniel 39), Blair, Thomas. Subs Not Used: Jensen, Rose, Lambe, Baxendale.