Pools made it two successive away victories, with two clean sheets as they took the three points from this evening's game at Oxford United.A first-half Ryan Bird strike was added to just after the break by Neil Austin as Ronnie Moore's side built on the win at Morecambe with another solid, battling display.
It was another positive and enthusiastic start from Pools as they carried the attitude shown in Saturday’s game into this evening.
Although Oxford had two early half-chances – both collected by Scott Flinders – it was Moore’s side who looked the brightest and went on to enjoy a really strong spell of pressure.
A long throw by Neil Austin from the right set up the first chance for Pools; Nicky Featherstone had made a great run into the box and he collected the throw, to take a shot from a tight angle. His effort crashed against the near post and went out of play but it was a decent early chance.
Michael Duckworth went on a determined run down the left, jinking in-field to square the ball for Brad Walker who unleashed a shot from 20 yards out, which was pushed over by Ryan Clarke at full stretch.
Pools were seeing much more of the ball going forward, keeping Oxford out of the final third for a good spell and showing a real desire to keep possession.
Once again Scott Harrison was a real rock at the back, pushing everything that came towards him right back upfield.
Pools had a strong shout for a penalty turned down as Joe Skarz looked to have pushed the forward over inside the box just as he prepared to shoot on goal.
The referee, who was proving himself unpopular with both sets of fans this evening, waved away the appeals and play continued.
With a so-far rare threat on Pools’ goal Kemar Roofe pushed into the box from the right only to be denied by Harrison with another strong challenge.
And from this move Pools broke forward once more, with Jonathan Franks pushing into the box to send a powerful drive at goal. Clarke saved Franks’ effort but the loose ball fell to Ryan Bird running in on goal and he made no mistake as he rifled home from 10 yards to give his side the lead.
Following the goal, Oxford upped their pressure going forward and Pools faced a real spell of pressure, with plenty of crosses into the box to test the back line.
But, with the confidence of the Morecambe performance behind them, Moore’s men stood firm and held on for the final 10 minutes of the half to take the lead into the break.
The second half started in much the same way, with Oxford – who were booed off at half time – coming out brightly and forcing Pools into some early defending.
But Moore’s side made things more comfortable by grabbing a second goal within six minutes of the re-start; Aaron Tshibola found himself in possession inside the box and as he looked to take it around Johnny Mullins, the defender handled it.
The official pointed straight to the spot and Ryan Bird stepped straight up to take it. The on-loan striker’s low effort was saved by Clarke who got down to block but Neil Austin reacted quickest as he arrived to smash the loose ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
Again Oxford worked Pools hard following the goal but the visitors were organised and strong at the back – with every player, including strikers Bird and Franks, doing their bit to help out in defence.
The two Pools strikers worked hard this evening and the home defence never looked at ease with Bird or Franks running at them.
There was a long delay late in the half as the referee Mr Miller went down injured and had to be stretchered off the pitch and the game was less frantic following when it started back up.
Nicky Featherstone, who was dominant in the middle again this evening, went on a run down the right wing where he then picked out Michael Duckworth running into a central position. Duckworth picked his spot and sent a rising shot at goal but his effort went too high and over the bar.
Scott Flinders made a good save from Baldock, getting down well to tip his effort around the post as Oxford kept looking for a way through on goal - and the hosts had an additional nine minutes of play to try and find a route through.
But this was a new determined Pools on show and they worked hard to the final whistle to make sure the three points were never in doubt.
Pools are now just four points adrift at the bottom of League Two with two big home games coming up.
Full Time: Oxford United 0 Pools 2
Attendance: 4375 (102 Pools)
Booked: Featherstone (53), Tshibola (90)
Oxford United: Clarke, Skarz, Mullins, Wright, Hoban, MacDonald (Gnanduillet), Baldock, Ruffels, O'Dowda (Roberts), Collins, Roofe.
Subs Not Used: Rose, Ashdown, Rasulo, Long, Dunkley.
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Harrison, Mirfin, Jones, Duckworth, Walker, Featherstone, Tshibola, Franks, Bird (Harewood 90).
Subs Not Used: Maxted, Holden, Richards, Hawkins, Nelson-Addy, Smith.