Nathan Thomas played an hour for the Reserves against Mansfield Town on Tuesday afternoon but it was his replacement Josh Hawkes who stole the headlines with a last-minute winner.
Winger Thomas was keen to top up his fitness after returning from three months out with a groin injury and he got sixty minutes under his belt against his former club, winning a first half penalty.
However, Youth Team star Hawkes came off the bench to replace him and sent home a fantastic winner direct from a free-kick after trialist Tyler Harvery’s first half spot-kick had been cancelled out.
A quiet opening period was punctuated with only very few chances; Mansfield’s Lewis Collins stuck a snapshot wide from twenty yards, while Jason Law’s free-kick was blocked by the Pools wall.
However, on the half hour Nathan Thomas jinked his way in to the penalty area and was felled by Town defender Tom Slone, allowed trialist Tyler Harvey to slot home from the post to put Pools one up.
The Stags mounted a good response though and almost came back in to it when Nyle Blake turned smartly on the edge of the box but his low shot was well gathered by Joe Fryer in the Pools goal.
But there was no chance for Fryer in first half injury time when Town skipper Collins lifted a wonderful free-kick over the wall and in to the top corner from twenty-five yards to level things up.
The visitors had a chance to go in front early in the second half when Pools’ trialist Tolu Kayode saw his attempted clearance intercepted but Blake couldn’t make the most of the opportunity and curled a low effort wide.
Jake Orrell did well to find some space on the left flank before whipping a ball in towards Harvey but the front man saw his header loop wide of the front post.
There was a good counter-attack for Town moments later as substitute Sufarel Behaili was fed the ball on the edge of the Pools box but his curling shot was held by Fryer down to his right.
The Stags threatened again when Eddie Rogerson was caught in possession just inside his own half but once again Fryer was in the right place to collect Collins’ effort from twenty yards.
Kenton Richardson did well to engineer a crossing chance on the right and his deep delivery was met with a diving header from James Martin at the far post but the attempt went just wide.
Pools were getting on top as time began to run out and Smith provided a testing low ball in from the right which Mansfield couldn’t fully clear. Substitute Josh Hawkes ran on to the loose ball and was only inches away from finding the top corner from the edge of the box with a wonderful shot with the outside of his right boot.
The youngster may have been unlucky with that effort but he found his range in the final minute when he whipped an unstoppable free-kick over the wall and in to the top corner to win the points for Pools.
Full Time: Pools 2 Mansfield Town 1
Pools: Fryer, Richardson, Reid, Kayode (Wise 70), Martin, Smith, Rogerson, Green (Rodney 60), Thomas (Hawkes 60), Harvey, Orrell.
Catterick, Assenso.Subs not used: