Match report: Fans return as Pools put on a show

Hartlepool United finished their regular-season campaign in style with a comfortable win over Weymouth. Goals from Ryan Johnson, player of the year Rhys Oates, Mark Shelton, and Gavan Holohan secured the points.

Backed by the roar of the crowd, Pools started brightly and almost had the lead in the seventh minute. Rhys Oates was played through and managed to find Ferguson in acres of space. The legs of Benfield denied the marauding left-back, but Challinor’s men wouldn’t be denied for long. The resulting corner was whipped to the back-post by Featherstone and Ryan Johnson headed in his fifth goal of the season.

A flurry of chances followed, with Oates and Ferguson both having shots blocked at the last by Weymouth defenders. Cass, Sterry, and Ferguson were finding space all over the pitch and creating chances for Oates and Elliott in the Weymouth half.

The second goal came just before the half-hour mark through Rhys Oates. A lofted ball over the top saw Oates beat the defender to the ball and bear down on Benfield’s goal. The goalkeeper did his best to narrow the angle but the Yorkshireman slid the ball beyond him for his 14th goal of the season.

Elliott continued to go close with a good header from Cass’s cross while Ferguson continued to work hard down the left. Good work from Cass down the right almost created a chance for Oates, but no further chances presented themselves before McQuoid pulled up injured before the interval.

The second half started with an enforced change as Ryan Donaldson replaced Jamie Sterry. The change didn’t affect the game’s tempo, as the boys in blue went in search for their third goal. Shelton’s long-range strike didn’t have enough on it to trouble Benfield and a wayward clearance almost found it’s way in. Oates then had two quick fire chances, but both were blocked to avert danger.

Holohan had the ball in the net for a third, but the referee ruled it out for offside. However, Pools weren’t to be denied for long. Ryan Donaldson got down the right and his near-post was cleverly turned in by Mark Shelton for his third of the season.

Weymouth started having more of a go in the final quarter of the game and Brooks clipped the crossbar from 30 yards out. At the other end, Elliott and Featherstone had chances before Holohan put icing on the cake. Running through the Weymouth defence, the Irishman beat player after player before firing past Benfield for four.

Brad James was properly called into action with just under 10 minutes to go as Dallas got in behind. Making himself big, James got in the way to keep his clean sheet intact. Gary Liddle was replaced by Francis-Angol shortly afterwards before the ball found its way past Benfield. The referee spotted an infringement from Cass and the ball was ruled out.

Featherstone picked up a late booking, but it couldn’t put a dampener on the result as Pools secured an eliminator tie against Bromley next Sunday.

SUBS: Donaldson for Sterry, Molyneux for Oates, Francis-Angol for Liddle

Yellow: Featherstone