Pools Off And Running At The Vic
Pools celebrated their first home victory of the season as goals from Charlie Wyke and Brad Walker brought an end to Shrewsbury Town’s unbeaten league run at Victoria Park.
It was a thoroughly deserved win for Colin Cooper’s side who produced their best performance of the season to delight the home crowd with some excellent football.
Town arrived boasting an impressive record since relegation to League Two, but Pools offered them little respect and were on the front foot from the first few minutes.
Wyke sent a warning shot past the far post inside three minutes after good work from Jonathan Franks – but it was a warning that the visitors failed to heed.
When the ball went up to Wyke the next time he battled hard to feed it out to the recalled Jack Compton and he powered in to the left side of the box before returning a low ball to Wyke to roll past his former Middlesbrough team-mate Jayson Leutwiler in the Shrews’ goal.
It was the on-loan front man’s second goal in three games since rejoining the Club from The Teessiders last month and it was the perfect start for Pools after a frustrating August.
Ryan Brobbel was given dispensation to play for Pools before linking up with Northern Ireland Under 21s on Sunday morning and the winger had a golden chance to double the lead but couldn’t connect cleanly with his shot after more good work from Franks and Compton.
Pools were flying and Town were struggling to get a foothold; the influential Tommy Miller threaded a ball through for Wyke who in turn found Compton but his shot from a narrow angle was charged down.
The visiting side began to show signs of life as the first half progressed; front man James Collins hit a shot at Scott Flinders before the keeper then did well to deny Collins’ strike partner Scott Vernon.
Collins got free from James Clark’s deep centre but headed over moments later, while Clark himself clipped a shot wide from twenty-five yards as The Shrews began to show some form.
Wyke almost doubled Pools lead as the game headed towards the break though, but after being fed through by Brobbel he got round Leutwiler only to be crowded out by recovering defenders.
There was always going to be a key period just after the break as Shrewsbury looked to come out on the front foot, but Pools kept them at arms’ length – the impressive Matthew Bates playing his best game for the Club so far alongside Scott Harrison who looked a tower of strength on his debut.
Long range efforts aside, Town lacked cutting edge and Pools maintained a threat on the counter-attack which was summed up when Compton wriggled in to the penalty area to cross for Brobbel but the winger just couldn’t force the ball home.
Andy Mangan dragged shot wide of the near post and fellow Shrews’ substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro drilled a sweet drive on goal which Flinders held with confident ease.
Then, with little over ten minutes remaining, Pools made the game safe. Compton robbed Jermaine Grandison on the halfway line and traded passes with Franks before sprinting down the left flank and delivering an inviting low ball in to the centre for Walker to charge on to and fire home.
The teenage may be used to finding the net in from long range, this strike was no-less spectacular or important and his celebrations reflected the relief of a job just about done for Pools.
In fairness, Shrewsbury continued to play and look for openings; Collins saw a shot charged down on the edge of the area but James Wesolowski’s follow-up was easily held by Flinders.
In truth, Pools could have enjoyed a greater margin of triumph had referee Jeremy Simpson – who produced an unpredictable performance – pointed to the spot when Brobbel appeared to be hauled over after bursting clear of the visitors’ tiring defence.
There was time for Brobbel to sting the side-netting with a well-struck shot in injury time but by then the Pools fans were already celebrating a crucial win and hopefully the platform to better times on home soil.
Full Time: Pools 2 Shrewsbury Town 0
Pools: Flinders, Parnaby (Richards 39), Bates, Harrison, Austin, Brobbel, Walker, Miller, Compton (Holden 90), Wyke, Franks.
Subs not used: Dixon, Collins, Woods, Hawkins, Harewood.
Shrewsbury Town: Leutwiler, Demetriou (Mangan 54), Vernon (Akpa Akpro 54), Gayle (Grandison 17), Clark, Ellis, Collins, Knight-Percival, Woods, Goldson, Wesolowski.
Subs not used: Burton, Griffith, Lawrence, Vincent.
Booked: Harrison, Walker (Pools), Clark, Wesolowski, Collins (Shrewsbury)
3,368 (218 Shrews)Attendance: