Pools Hand Hignett Perfect Start
Craig Hignett got off to a winning start in the Pools dugout as second half goals from Billy Paynter and Adam Jackson secured a priceless victory over Yeovil Town.
Skipper Paynter fired home from the spot close to the hour mark after Nathan Thomas had been fouled in the area, before Adam Jackson powered home a header twenty minute from time to double the lead.
Francois Zoko’s late back post header proved mere consolation for the visitors and did little to knock the shine off Hignett’s big day as he celebrated his debut in the dugout with three points.
The new boss made his presence count with his team selection, bringing Dan Jones in to play at left-back while Michael Woods and Nicky Featherstone both returned to play alongside Jake Gray in a midfield three.
Roared on by almost 4,000 inside The Vic, Pools almost provided Hignett with a perfect start when Thomas found space to cross on the left and Gray arrived at the far post to sizzle a shot at goal which kissed the bar on its way over.
The youngster – on loan from Crystal Palace – seemed in the mood early on and came close to scoring again moments later when the ball fell kindly to him twenty-five yards out but his powerful drive flew just too high.
At the other end, former Pools loan man Ryan Bird looked Yeovil’s chief threat and he highlighted that when he expertly brought the ball down on his chest but his shot was well-blocked by Jackson.
Recent games between these sides have been tight affairs and this one was shaping up no differently, during a first period when clear-cut chances were at a premium.
Bird volleyed wide from a Matty Dolan corner, while Thomas might have done better after being fed through by Paynter but he blazed over from inside the area.
Connor Roberts drove a shot wide for Town before Trevor Carson did well to hold a powerful Ben Tozer drive as the visitors threatened to get on top.
Glovers keeper Artur Krysiak had to be at his very best to prevent Dan Jones putting Pools one-up when the young defender flicked on Jordan Richards’ free-kick but the Polish stopper’s reflexes were up to the job.
It was Town who started the second half the brighter but couldn’t find a route to goal; Michael Woods almost made them pay when he jinked cleverly through the defence but saw his shot deflected wide.
From the corner, the visitors broke dangerously and substitute Harry Cornick – on for the injured Jack Compton – got away down the left only to see his cross cut-out by the excellent Matthew Bates and Zoko blazed the loose ball over.
The key moment arrived on 58 minutes when Thomas got one-on-one with Jakub Sokolik and the Town defender dived in on the Pools winger, upending him just inside the box. Referee Wright pointed to the spot and Paynter drilled his ninth goal of the season in to the bottom-right corner.
It almost got instantly worse for the Somerset side as Thomas picked up a loose ball on the halfway line and burst in behind the beleaguered defence only to once again strike his shot too high when confronted by Krysiak.
Zoko got free to plant a header just wide from a left-wing corner as Yeovil recovered some of their composure, but Richards came close to doubling Pools’ lead when he lifted a shot too high after being fed in by Gray.
Luke James was working hard again up front and his persistent run earned a corner on 71 minutes and, when Richards provided a pinpoint delivery, Jackson rose high above his man to power a header in off the underside of the cross bar.
Town made rescuing anything from the game even harder for themselves when Nathan Smith got unnecessarily involved with Paynter off the ball and the referee produced a straight red card after the Glovers defender appeared to raise his hands to the Pools’ skipper’s face.
Gray had a shot deflected wide and substitute Bingham glanced a header just off-target as Pools looked to kill the game off in the closing stages.
However, some slack defending allowed Zoko to nod home at the far post after good work from Roberts to make the last ninety seconds of injury time a little more worrying than they needed to be.
Thankfully, Pools held on and Hignett could celebrate a winning start to management – and one which lifts his side back above their visitors in the League Two table.
Full Time: Pools 2 Yeovil Town 1
Pools: Carson, Richards, Bates, Jackson, Jones, Featherstone (Magnay 62), Woods, Gray, Thomas (Bingham 63), Paynter (Fenwick 81), James.
Subs not used: Bartlett, Carroll, Harrison, Hawkins.
Yeovil Town: Krysiak, Smith, Sokolik, Dickson, Roberts, Tozer, Dolan (Gillett 73), Walsh, Bird (Campbell 72), Compton (Cornick 26), Zoko.
Subs not used: Weale, Laird, Lacey, Ward.
Attendance: 3,923 (124 Yeovil Town)
Booked: Thomas, Paynter (Pools), Tozer, Zoko (Yeovil)
Smith (Yeovil)Sent off: