Pools picked up a crucial three points with a big 4-0 win over Crewe Alexandra at The NGP this evening.
Two Lewis Alessandra goals, one from Padraig Amond and a wonder strike from Nathan Thomas gave Dave Jones his first win as Pools boss and gave his side a much-needed three points as they battle to move away from the drop zone.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Michael Woods had a shot from distance which took a deflection on its way through the area but landed nicely for Ben Garratt in the visiting goal.
But with no shots on target inside the opening spell, the anxiety from the crowd was matched by the players on the pitch as Jones’s side looked edgy.
With Crewe on the attack, Nathan Thomas put in a crucial challenge inside the box to concede a corner before the Pools man went up the other end of the pitch to blast a shot on goal through a crowded box, which went just wide of target.
Crewe’s front three of Kiwomya, Bowery and Cooper looked dangerous when in full flow and Pools were worked hard for much of the first half - with Brad Walker and Scott Harrison again strong at the back.
Nicky Featherstone cleared one off the line from a corner kick before Jordan Bowery forced his way into the box from the right to send in a low shot which deflected past Fryer only to bounce off the far post and back into play.
Thomas had another couple of efforts from distance which didn’t really trouble Garratt in a half that was dominated by the visitors and it was just the seeming hesitation of the players in red to shoot on goal which kept things level going into the 45th minute.
But with half-time nearing, Pools grabbed an unlikely opener; a cross in from Rhys Oates on the left was not cleared by Crewe, which allowed Lewis Alessandra to pick up possession. The Pools striker turned his way into space before finishing calmly past Garratt with a goal that saw Jones’s men leave the field to applause at the break.
Nathan Thomas wriggled his way past three red shirts, forced his way back into the box and curled a strike at goal from a tight angle. His shot went out at the far post but it was a bright start to the second half from Pools.
While Crewe did start to come more into the game after another strong start by Pools, their confidence had clearly taken a knock following that goal late in the first half.
Ben Nugent rose highest as a corner was played into the box but his header went just wide of goal, while Joe Fryer pulled off a strong save out to his right to deny Bowery with a decent effort.
It was 2-0 to Pools on 71 minutes and again Rhys Oates was the provider as he picked up a poor ball out from the Crewe keeper and flicked it on for sub Padraig Amond. The striker, who had been on for just ten minutes, showed real battle and skill to fight his way through into space and sent the ball home from a very narrow angle to give Pools a crucial second goal.
Crewe Alexandra made a triple substitution on 74 minutes to try and give themselves a way back into the game.
And the visitors went close shortly after the change as Bowery again found himself through with only Fryer to beat but again the Pools keeper came out on top, this time with a finger-tip save to keep the ball out.
Kenton Richardson was the architect of Pools' final goal, with a determined run down the right wing, an exchange with Amond before sending a testing cross into the box. There were shots from Alessandra and Thomas which were both then blocked before Alessandra stepped up again to smash home his second of the evening to make it 3-0.
Pools weren't finished there though; Nathan Thomas made sure he grabbed the headlines from the game with a sublime individual goal in added time. The winger jinked his way into the box from the right to squeeze the ball past Garratt and into the back of the net to round things off at 4-0.
A great win for Pools in a game that was billed as the most important of the season so far and something to build on as Exeter City are the opposition on Saturday.
Full Time: Hartlepool United 4 Crewe Alexandra 0
Booked: Oates (88)
Attendance: 3043 (95 Crewe Alexandra)
Pools: Fryer, Richardson, Harrison, Walker, Donnelly, Featherstone, Woods, Alessandra, Oates (Hawkins 90), Rooney (Amond 61), Thomas.
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Martin, Hawkes, Smith.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent, Jones, Cooper (Ainley 74), Bakayogo (Ng 74), Bingham, Bowery, Kiwomya (Kirk 74), Cooke.
Subs Not Used: Richards, Wintle, Finney, Pickering.