Match report: Pools go top of the National League

Hartlepool United climbed to the top of the National League with goals from Gavan Holohan and Richie Bennett. In a controlled performance, Dave Challinor’s men worked hard, scored the goals at crucial times, and claimed another home clean sheet.

Pools started the game on the front foot with two corners in the first 10 minutes. However, the County defence held firm and Slocombe was having an inspired game between the sticks.

More clear-cut chances followed, but Bennett could only fire over the bar and Ferguson’s cross flashed between Holohan and the onrushing Slocombe.

The Hartlepool forwards and midfielders continued to work hard, putting the press on Notts’ players and forcing mistakes. From a mistake, Shelton broke into the box and looked to be felled, but the referee waved away the protests.

Notts County then pressed forward, with the returning Kyle Wootton heading narrowly over Henrich Ravas’ crossbar. The visitors then made an early change, with Lewis Knight replacing Regan Griffiths.

On the stroke of half-time, the breakthrough game. Shelton collected a shanked clearance, fed Holohan, and the Irishman made no mistake.

Notts County started the second half as the better side, with Knowles looking dangerous for the visitors. Pools looked to get their second with Bennett driving well from range but Slocombe was equal to it.

Both sides continued to defend well, with Cass and Sterry doing well for the hosts. Notts County introduced two subs, Kelly-Evans and Roberts, with the latter hobbling off with an apparent knee injury.

Ravas continued to impress on his return to the side and the Slovakian worked with his defence to create a platform for Pools to advance forward. The points were safe four minutes from time as Ferguson’s cross was flicked into the path of Bennett who took a touch before firing past Slocombe for his second in two games.

Pools continued to defend well and closed out the victory with resolute defending.

SUBS: Donaldson for Armstrong

Yellow: Liddle