Shelton Shoots Down Spitfires
Gavan Holohan and Mark Shelton both found the net as Pools got back to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph over Eastleigh on a blustery night at Victoria Park.
The win saw Pools leapfrog their visitors in the National League table and nudge them a little closer to the play-off positions with two long away trips to Dover Athletic and Yeovil Town next up.
The strong winds ensured the first half was far from a classic, with Eastleigh sitting deep behind the ball and Pools struggling to find the guile to break them down.
Ryan Donaldson dragged a shot across goal and wide after Eastleigh made hard work of dealing with a Peter Kioso cross from the right.
There was a blow for Pools on 12 minutes when Michael Raynes was forced off with injury – Fraser Kerr a ready-made replacement came off the bench.
Pools had the lion’s share of the ball as the half developed, Nicke Kabamba finding space on the edge of the area to shoot but his effort took a deflection and fell kindly for visiting keeper Max Streyjek.
Gavan Holohan then drove infield with the ball from the left and found room to let fly but his powerful low shot flashed across goal and wide.
Donaldson came up with the half’s only shot on target right at the end when he wriggled in to space twenty-five yards out but his well-struck shot was down Stryjek’s throat.
Pools came out with more intent at the start of the second period and went in front on 51 minutes when a deep cross from the right was spilled by Kryjek and Holohan was in the right place to volley home his eighth goal of the season.
However, the lead lasted less than a minute as Eastleigh responded immediately to level, taking advantage of some hesitant defending and scoring thanks to a ferocious finish from Sam Smart.
Challinor’s men had to rediscover their belief and go again to seal the win, and the crucial goal arrived on 67 minutes. Holohan brilliantly skipped past two men down the left before feeding Mark Kitching to the byline and his low cross was gleefully rammed home by Shelton.
Pools could even have made it 3-1 a minute later when another ball in from the right fell for Gus Mafuta but he cannoned a shot off the crossbar and Eastleigh survived.
The visitors mustered little by way of a second comeback though and Pools held on to clinch three points and push themselves back closer to the top seven as the business end of the season approaches.
Full Time: Pools 2 Eastleigh 1
Pools: Beeney, Kioso, Liddle, Raynes (Kerr 12 (Anderson 75)), Kitching, Mafuta, Featherstone, Shelton, Holohan, Donaldson, Kabamba.
Subs not used: Kennedy, Hamilton, Molyneux.
Eastleigh: Stryjek, Partington, McKnight, Payne, Rendell, Barnett, Smart, Bearwish, Wynter, Miley, Hollands.
Subs not used: Flitney, Scorey, Waterfield, Beale.
Attendance: 2,478 (19 Eastleigh)
Referee: Simon Mather