Pools ran out comfortable winners at Shildon on Tuesday night as they produced an impressive performance against the Northern League outfit at Dean Street.
Matthew Bates welcomed back Jake Cassidy who missed Saturday’s game against Sunderland through injury and he also handed a start to latest recruit Luke James.
Pools had the first glimpse of goal after just four minutes when Cassidy escaped on the right of the penalty area but his shot across was saved by the keeper.
Bates’ men were enjoying the lion’s share of possession but neither side were really threatening to create clear-cut chances; Andrew Davies produced a good block to stop a shot on goal while Cassidy was just caught by the defender as Pools threatened to launch a decisive counter-attack.
On 26 minutes Pools found the breakthrough though. Some hesitant defending by the hosts on the edge of their own box saw the ball fall loose to Lewis Hawkins and he sent a lovely finish in to the net with the keeper out of position.
A minute later it was 2-0 as Cassidy ran on to a ball in behind, shrugged off the attentions of a recovering defender and sent a low shot across goal and in to the bottom corner of the net.
Luke James saw a shot held after cutting inside from the left before then turning provider after linking-up well with the impressive Peter Kioso only for Cassidy’s header to be held by the keeper.
However, James made his impact on 42 minutes when Ryan Catterick’s quick thinking saw him pick out Cassidy with a long ball forward and when his shot was parried by the keeper James was there to fire home the rebound.
The second half began slowly but James did test the home keeper again just before the hour-mark but this time his shot from range was well held.
Pools made a further nine substitutions just afterwards and the players introduced quickly began to dominate possession and knock the ball around with confidence.
The fourth goal arrived on 67 minutes when good work by Josh Hawkes on the right provided a chance for trialist Dimitris Gioukoudis and when his shot was parried fellow sub Niko Muir was there to fire home the rebound.
Another patient move involving multiple passes almost ended in a fifth for Pools when Hawkes lifted a cross to the far post but Mark Kitching could only guide an effort just wide of the post.
The dangerous Muir had another opportunity to score when he swivelled on the edge of the six-yard box but his low shot was well blocked by the goalkeeper.
Carl Magnay tried his luck with a speculative volley before Gioukoudis pounced on a poor clearance from the Shildon keeper to shoot on goal but the shot-stopper redeemed himself by recovering to tip the effort over the bar.
Full Time: Shildon 0 Pools 4
Pools: Catterick (Loach 62), Richardson (Donaldson 62), Laing, Davies (Miller 32), Anderson (Magnay 62), Kioso (Kitching 62), Woods (Newton 62), Featherstone (Noble 62), James (Gioukoudis 62), Hawkins (Hawkes 62), Cassidy (Muir 62).