Josh Hawkes struck a superb first half goal as Pools claimed victory at Maidenhead United to finally – and deservedly – bring to an end their run of seven successive National League defeats.
The young midfielder rifled home his second of the season from the edge of the box after 18 minutes and Pools went on to control the game, particularly after The Magpies had a man sent-off early in the second half.
Craig Hignett opted to make one change to his starting eleven with the inclusion of Myles Anderson in a three-man defence, Kenton Richardson stepped down to the bench after missing a little bit of training during the week with a knee injury.
It was the hosts who began on the front foot and they caused a few minor problems in the opening stages with Pools conceding the day’s first corner within a minute.
However, as the game developed, Hignett’s men got in to their stride and looked comfortable knocking the ball around on a heavy and difficult York Road pitch.
Nicky Featherstone and Liam Noble got about their work confidently in the engine room and Hawkes was again causing issues for the opposition defence by popping up between the lines to get on the ball.
Every time Pools went forward the home defence looked vulnerable and when Featherstone laid a ball along the edge of the box for Hawkes, the youngster took a touch to steady himself before unleashing a low drive which flashed underneath keeper Carl Pentney and flew in to the net.
Pools continued to look the more likely to find another goal but The Magpies direct style was being aided by a strong wind in their favour and Pentney’s huge clearances meant concentration had to be at an optimum for the defence.
An added threat was the long throw of Maidenhead midfielder James Comley though Pools stood firm in the face of a couple of dangerous deliveries in to the area.
There was a blow ten minutes before half-time when Peter Kioso fell heavily and injured his ankle, leading to a prolonged period of treatment after which the defender was stretchered from the field with suspected ankle ligament damage.
The setback didn’t seem to knock Pools out of their stride though, with Richardson brought on in his place and seamlessly slotting in to the back three.
Indeed Pools could have increased their lead before the break when the ball fell nicely for Noble on the edge of the area but his curling drive was blocked by a defender with Pentney scrambling across his goal.
Within five minutes of the restart the complexion of an increasingly niggly game changed when Comley lunged in on Nicky Featherstone and referee Alan Dale – only yards from the incident – had little hesitation in reaching for a red card.
The sending-off brought an even greater spring in the step for the likes of Featherstone and Noble who kept on the move and found yet more space to keep the ball moving and maintain possession.
A slip from Maidenhead left-back Rene Steer almost proved costly when Hawkes seized on the loose ball on the right side of the penalty area and sent a low cross in to the front post for Niko Muir but his flick on goal was well blocked by Pentney and the hosts survived.
Pools kept the lion’s share of possession as Magpies boss Alan Devonshire shuffled his pack in search of a route back in to the game but even the introduction of former loan man Ryan Bird – who has scored against us for both Dover and Yeovil in the past – could not inspire a comeback.
Some determined defending was required as time wore on and there were a few nerves as the full-time whistle crept ever closer but in the end there were scenes of celebration when the contest came to a conclusion.
A battling, gritty and determined display and a much-needed three points – now for the job of finding a new permanent manager to ensure performances like these are repeated much more often between now and the end of April.
Full Time: Maidenhead United 0 Pools 1
Booked: Featherstone, Kitching, Hawkes, Noble.
Maidenhead United: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Obileye (Cole 63), Kilgour, Comley, Kelly, Worsfold (Odametey 78), Nana-Twumasi, Clifton (Bird 71), Massey.
Subs Not Used: Owusu, Peters.
Pools: Loach, Kioso (Richardson 35), Magnay, Anderson, Donaldson, Featherstone, Noble, Kitching, Hawkes (McLaughlin 83), Muir, James.
Subs Not Used: Richardson, Butler, O’Neill, Dinanga.