Pools maintained their unbeaten run in pre-season with a battling 1-0 win over National League North outfit Spennymoor Town at the Brewery Field on Saturday.
The fixture certainly had a more competitive feel than previous warm-up encounters and Pools were made to work hard for their victory which came courtesy of Luke James’ second goal in as many games.
Matthew Bates named a strong starting eleven once more though he was without Peter Kioso who picked up a slight knock in training and Paddy McLaughlin who is still recovering from a virus. New loan signing Marcus Dinanga was amongst the substitutes.
It was the hosts who started the brighter in the game and began pushing Pools on to the back foot in the early stages with Bates’ men forced to defend with determination.
However, Pools worked their way back in to the things and carved out a couple of half chances thanks largely to good link-up between Mark Kitching and Luke James down the left flank.
Pools came close to opening the scoring when Liam Noble’s flighted free-kick from the left found Andrew Davies at the far post and his looping header was cleared off the line as Town survived.
Josh Hawkes came even closer on 16 minutes when he unleased a thunderbolt from twenty-five yards which crashed back off the top of the left post with keeper Matthew Gould well beaten.
The Moors had their best opportunity when Robert Ramshaw found space on the right side of the penalty area where was found by a lovely cross but his volley flew across goal and wide.
Pools took the lead on 21 minutes when Davies powerfully met a right-wing corner but his header was brilliantly palmed on to the post by Gould but luck was against the keeper as Luke James swept in the rebound to open the scoring.
Town finished the first half well and could have got back on level terms when a left-wing corner was steered towards goal by skipper James Curtis but it went just wide of the far post.
The hosts created the first moment of danger during the second half too when Ryan Hall scampered away down the right but he dragged his shot across goal and wide of the target.
Glen Taylor could have brought Town back on level terms when he wriggled in to the left side of the penalty area but Scott Loach got out quickly to close the angle and smother the shot.
Noble almost made the game safe for Pools at the other end when he clipped a delightful free-kick on goal which beat the keeper but came back out off the post and the home side escaped.
Ramshaw got in behind Myles Anderson as he looked to sniff out an equaliser but again Loach was quick off his line and made an instinctive block to keep Pools’ lead intact.
Hawkes found some good space down the left and lifted in a lovely left-footed cross on to the head of Cassidy who met it firmly but saw his effort brilliantly turned round the post by keeper Gould.
Taylor got away to the right byline before picking his head up to send a ball in to the feet of substitute Andrew Johnson but his shot flies wide of the front post.
Cassidy engineered some room on the edge of the box at the other end to let fly with a well-struck shot which stung the palms of Gould before Town were able to clear the loose ball.
Full Time: Spennymoor Town 0 Pools 1
Pools: Loach, Magnay (Laing 46), Davies, Anderson, Donaldson (Richardson 70), Featherstone (Woods 70), Noble (Hawkins 84), Kitching, Hawkes (Newton 84), James (Dinanga 63), Muir (Cassidy 63).
Booked: Davies (Pools), Curtis (Spennymoor).