Aidan Keena scored on his home debut as Pools ran out deserved 2-0 winners over Stockport County on Saturday to move within three points of the National League play-off zone.
The Irishman converted from close range when he got on the end of Mark Shelton’s low cross before Shelton got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half to seal the victory.
Dave Challinor handed debuts to new loan recruits Macauley Southam-Hales and Timi Odusina, while Gime Toure returned to the starting eleven after completing a three-match suspension.
There was a ferocious start to the game and it became clear from the off that the visitors hadn’t come to sit back and they more than played their part during a high-tempo opening.
County debutant Danny Lloyd thought he should have had an early penalty when he took a tumble under Odusina’s challenge but the referee wasn’t interested and waved away his protests.
Pools’ first real foray forward saw Ryan Donaldson drive towards the edge of the box with possession before squaring it for Gavan Holohan whose low drive was parried by keeper Ben Hinchliffe where Keena pounced on the rebound only to be flagged offside.
The returning Gime Toure then robbed the ball from Stockport on the halfway line and advance towards the penalty area but his curling shot lacked the power to trouble Hinchliffe.
Another good Pools move on the quarter-hour mark provided Holohan with another shooting opportunity but this time his right-foot shot flew just wide of the post.
The Irishman was at the heart of everything in the final third though and he tried his luck again a couple of minutes later, forcing another fine diving save from Hinchliffe to his left.
There was a let-off for Pools at the other end when Adam Thomas’ cross from the right was spilt b Mitch Beeney who was thankful that Southam-Hales was in the right place to clear Jordan Archer’s effort off the line.
The goal arrived on 31 minutes and it was an excellent move by Pools once again to free Mark Shelton to the right byline and his low ball across was slid in to the net gleefully for a home debut goal by Keena.
Pools came out with real intent at the start of the second period and Toure could have made it 2-0 within a couple of minutes when Gary Liddle’s flick-on found Toure on the left of the area but he blazed an effort over the bar.
However, the pressure paid off on 52 minutes when Holohan got between the lines to feed Toure down the left before charging in to the area to receive the return pass and tee up Shelton whose low finish found the corner of the net for a wonderful goal.
Two minutes later the irrepressible Holohan let fly with another shot from the edge of the box which took a nick off a defender as it flew towards goal where it was held by Ben Hinchliffe.
More excellent work from Keena saw him free Donaldson forward down the right who set-up Toure but the Frenchman’s powerful shot was saved at the front post.
County finally began to rally after the hour mark and Ash Palmer nodded a couple of half chances wide before Toure almost headed a third for Pools at the other end.
Mitch Beeney then had to make smart saves from Lloyd’s whipped free-kick and a powerful drive from substitute Nyal Bell as The Hatters threw caution to the wind in the final ten minutes.
However, Pools could have added gloss to their win in the closing stages when Nicky Featherstone drove an effort wide from twenty yards and then Toure curled an effort too close to the keeper.
The win extended Challinor’s men’s unbeaten run to four games and hoisted them ever closer to the National League’s top seven as the business end of the season approaches.
Full Time: Pools 2 Stockport County 0
Pools: Beeney, Southam-Hales, Liddle, Odusina, Kitching, Featherstone, Shelton, Holohan, Donaldson, Toure (Molyneux 93), Keena (Mafuta 87).
Subs not used: Anderson, Hawkes, Muir.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Turnbull (McAlinden 70), Palmer, Keane, Thomas, Osborne, Arthur, Clarke (Bell 46), Archer (Minihan 65), Lloyd.
Subs not used: Ormson, Walker.
Referee: Karl Evans
Attendance: 3,766 (483 Stockport)