Three In A Row For PoolsPools made it the perfect week by beating Mansfield Town 1-0 at The Vic, making it three wins in a row.
Brad Walker scored the only goal of the game and Ronnie Moore’s side now sit just one point below two teams at the bottom of League Two.
The game started out at a fast pace, with clear intention from both sides, but the high tempo did not last in what turned out to be a scrappy first half.
On six minutes Ryan Bird intercepted a pass to burst forward into the box but as he sent the ball square for strike partner Jonathan Franks, Lee Beevers intercepted to clear the ball.
Jonathan Franks crossed in from the right in Pools’ next attack where Bird was waiting to head at goal but Mansfield keeper Lenny Pidgeley was able to claim, despite pressure from Aaron Tshibola.
With the visitors attacking, Scott Harrison rose to power a typically forceful header clear – but this time he clashed heads with his opponent and went down. After some treatment and a change of shirt, the big defender tried to continue but was forced to concede ten minutes later when he was helped off looking shaky.
By this point Mansfield were looking the more composed of the two teams and Pools were having to carry out the majority of their work at the back.
For a spell, this stop-start fixture largely involved Pools sending the ball back upfield and Mansfield quickly returning it on the attack.
The visitors were seeing more of the ball but rarely threatened to break through the back line to test Scott Flinders in goal. A scuffed effort from Chris Clements on the edge of the area which rolled into Flinders’ arms was as close as they came in the first half.
A Michael Duckworth freekick just before the break was headed back into the mix by David Mirfin who picked out Aaron Tshibola. He tried a powerful drive through the box but his effort went wide.
Half time gave Pools a chance to re-group and to come out and take the game to Mansfield in the second 45.
Within a minute of the re-start, Pools had a great chance to go ahead; brilliant determination from Nicky Featherstone saw the midfielder block an attempted clearance just over the half-way line. With the ball cannoning off Featherstone, he gave chase to win the loose ball and push into the box where he was tripped by defender Lee Beevers.
The referee pointed to the spot and Brad Walker stepped up to calmly slot home, giving Pools the lead in a so-far tense encounter.
The goal gave Pools the belief they needed to push on and Ronnie Moore’s side started to look much more likely going forward.
Junior Brown was then sent off for the visitors after a high challenge saw his boot connect with Brad Walker’s face. The referee was quick to produce the card and Mansfield were reduced to ten men.
Pools had a chance to quickly take advantage of the extra man as Franks pushed forward down the right to cross into the box for Bird but his final strike went over the bar via a deflection.
As can be the case with a team down to ten men, Mansfield Town saw plenty of the ball and continued to test the Pools back line.
It it was an improved Pools in this second half though and they to showed more going forward, with Jordan Jones - who came on for Harrison in the first half - bright down the left and Franks offering an option down the other wing.
The visitors won a freekick on 74 minutes right on the edge of the box to give Pools something to deal with but, while Billy Kee’s strike beat the wall, it didn’t beat Flinders and the keeper got down to hold the shot.
Flinders was back in action just minutes later as Pools faced more pressure – this time the Pools stopper pulled off a great save to deny Chris Clements an equaliser, leaping to paw away the midfielder's shot which looked set for the top corner.
Featherstone was in great form for Pools again this afternoon and he linked up well with the front three, in particular Jordan Jones down the left, to relieve the pressure as the visitors continued to attack despite their man disadvantage.
But Moore’s side battled hard right into the five minutes of added time and fought for the three points up to the final whistle.
Pools now lie just one point adrift at the bottom of the league, with Cambridge United next up at The Vic next Saturday.
Full Time: Pools 1 Mansfield Town 0
Attendance: 4166 (317 Mansfield Town)
Booked: Tshibola (33)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Harrison (J Jones 33), Mirfin, D Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Tshibola, Walker (Hawkins 90), Franks, Bird.
Subs Not Used: Maxted, Richards, Nelson-Addy, Harewood, Smith.
Mansfield Town: Pidgeley, Riley, McGuire, Heslop (Oliver 50), Beevers (Bingham 71), Brown, Elder, Clements, Kee, Raynes, Hawkridge (Lambe 53).
Subs Not Used: Studer, Sutton, Rhead, Ravenhill.