Victory For Pools Over Stevenage
Goals from Nicky Featherstone and Brad Walker saw Pools take all three points with a first-ever win over Stevenage.
Sam Collins recalled Brad Walker to the starting eleven and the young midfielder started well, getting himself involved in the action from the off.
Walker set Michael Woods running upfield with some neat footwork and Woods went on to feed it through to Rhys Oates who tried to force his way between two defenders. The ball was cleared but it was a promising start for Sam Collins’ side.
Oates was a real livewire up front, chasing every ball and closing the Stevenage defenders down whenever in possession.
Liam Donnelly tested the visitors with a couple of balls in from the right; his first was a powerful low drive which was well-saved by Jamie Jones at the near post, while the second went just wide despite pressure from Walker in the box.
With 30 minutes on the clock, Stevenage began to see a bit more of the ball themselves and Pools had a bit more defending to do.
Luke Wilkinson found space to get a header in from close range but sent it well over the bar and Pools were soon back on the attack.
A cross from Lewis Hawkins on the right was aimed for Walker but instead hit the defender’s hand and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Rhys Oates stepped up to take the kick but Jones went the right way and saved the penalty.
Collins’ side showed a positive response though and were soon ahead; Nicky Featherstone found himself with only the keeper to beat. And, while Jones got a foot to the midfielder’s first shot, Featherstone made sure with the rebound which hit the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Just three minutes later and it was 2-0; Oates picked out Walker with a lovely ball into the box and the midfielder made the most of his return to the eleven as he coolly hit the ball into the net, with a slight touch on Jones’ gloves on its way.
Pools went into the second half with a two-goal lead which Stevenage went close to reducing in the early exchanges; Matt Godden smashing a strike a goal which bounced off the crossbar and back into play.
At the other end, Lewis Alessandra sent a couple of dangerous crosses in from the right – the first a freekick that picked out Brad Walker at the far post but his header found the keeper, while the second was a pacy effort that fizzed wide at the far post.
Liam Donnelly tried his luck with a powerful strike from outside of the box but he saw that effort go just wide of the near post.
Pools were well on top for a large spell of the second half, dominating possession and really entertaining the home fans - without being quite as clinical as they had been before the break.
After dominating for so long, Pools went closest to conceding on 81 minutes when Matt Godden hit the woodwork again, this time sending a header against the bar before sub Ryan Loft fired wide from six yards.
At the other end, Pools’ own sub Padraig Amond went close with a strike, seeing his curled effort really well saved by Jones, who put it out at the far post.
This was a well-organised display from Pools this afternoon and a performance that probably deserved more goals. But the victory gives new boss Dave Jones plenty of positives to work with when he takes over on Monday morning.
Full Time: Pools 2 Stevenage 0
Booked: Oates (60)
Pools: Bartlett, Donnelly, Bates, Harrison, Kavanagh, Featherstone, Walker (Laurent 81), Woods, Hawkins, Oates (Amond 74), Alessandra (Thomas 85).
Subs Not Used: Catterick, Richardson, Martin, Rodney.
Stevenage: Jones, Franks, Wilkinson, Schumacher, Pett, Kennedy (Loft 81), Gorman (Tonge 73), Lee, Cowans (McQuiod 62), Godden, Henry.
Subs Not Used: McAnuff, Liburd, Day, Johnson.