Pools Dig Deep For First Win
Colin Cooper's men picked up their first League Two victory with a 2-1 win over Accrington Stanley.
Two first-half goals set Pools on the way to their first league win and, while a goal for the visitors in the second half made for a tense finish, Pools held on for the three points.
It was another bright opening to the game from Pools, with a chance for Andy Monkhouse in the opening minutes of the game to give his side that much-needed first goal.
Jonathan Franks sent a neat cross in from the right that picked out Monkhouse in the box but he sent his header just wide of goal.
But the direct approach from Pools continued for much of the first half, with much of the play taking place in and around the Accrington goal.
Luke James was through on goal at one point after Andy Monkhouse had forced the ball through but with the young striker readying his shot, the official pulled play back for a foul on his strike partner.
But Pools maintained their pressure and James was back causing problems minutes later when he latched on to a poor ball from visiting winger James Gray, holding off the attentions of two defenders to slide an effort in on goal. His strike went just wide of the far post but Cooper’s men were getting closer.
Christian Burgess played a big part for Pools this afternoon – kick starting several attacks by bringing the ball confidently out of defence. The on-loan defender was strong up against the experienced Kayode Odejayi but made sure his ball forward was well-placed for the counter attack.
It took Pools until the 30th minute to break the deadlock but when it came, it was much deserved; Andy Monkhouse took possession on the edge of the area before slipping a lovely ball to Franks inside the box and the winger made no mistake with a low shot that found the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
The visitors had a chance to bounce back quickly when Peter Murphy sent a great cross in from the right but his effort was wasted at the far post as Tom Aldred headed over the bar.
And thankfully it was Pools who were next to find the back of the net, with Monkhouse making it 2-0 just before the break.
Matty Dolan skillfully back-heeled the ball into the box where James shielded in to the path of Monkhouse and he made no mistake as he fired straight at goal and past Bettinelli.
With the confidence of a two-goal lead behind them, Pools came out full of positivity and enthusiasm and really began to put the pressure on the visitors.
And, for the opening spell of the second half, Accrington did little to stop Cooper’s men from their flow - sending their passes straight back to the blue and white shirts and repeatedly failing to effectively clear their lines.
There were chances for James, Monkhouse and Franks in the first ten minutes of the second half as Pools sent wave after wave of attack at the visitors' goal.
But Pools were dealt a blow when completely against the run of play, Accrington pulled a goal back; a quick counter up field saw the long ball played up to James Gray and he when he got in behind the defence he made no mistake from close range, making it 2-1.
Cooper’s men now faced a real test as the nerves became evident both on and off the pitch for a spell and Pools lost that strong momentum that had started the half.
And the Manager made a move to make his side more physical on 65 minutes, with Steve Howard and Sam Collins joining the action and Jack Baldwin moving forward into midfield - Dolan was replaced after picking up a knock to the ankle.
After battling hard at one end to keep Accrington from drawing level, Pools were back at the right end of the pitch, with both Franks and Howard trying their luck on goal.
By this point, Pools were spending large spells defending as Accrington Stanley pushed forward in numbers looking for an equaliser.
A succession of corner kicks eased the pressure for Pools but there was more Accrington attacking to deal with and Scott Flinders reacted well to palm clear a deflected Connor Mahoney ball into the box, while Sam Collins intercepted another cross in added time.
Will Hatfield headed wide in the dying seconds as Accrington continued to press, but Pools dug in to hold on to a desperately needed victory.
Final Score: Pools 2 Accrington Stanley 1
Att: 3388 (83 Accrington Stanley)
Pools: Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Franks, Walton, Dolan (Collins 65), Compton, James (Howard 65), Monkhouse (Rodney 76)
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Richards, Sweeney, Poole
Accrington Stanley: Bettinelli, Murphy, Joyce, Aldred, Winnard, Richardson (Mahoney 84), Naismith, Miller (Hatfield 56), Gray (McCartan 84), Adejayi, Atkinson
Subs Not Used: Wilson, Clark, Mingoia, Windass