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Match Reports

Pools Make It Three In A Row

30 March 2018

Michael Woods Howard Roe
Michael Woods celebrates one of his two goals at Maidstone United.

Michael Woods scored twice as Pools extended their unbeaten run to five games with a brilliant away victory at Maidstone United on Good Friday.

The midfielder netted his 10th and 11th goals of the season before Pools held off a late fightback from The Stones to clinch three crucial points in their battle for safety in the National League.

There was an early indication of how difficult the surface was going to be when Ross Lafayette judged the bounce of a long ball forward to get in down the left but his low shot hit from a tight angle only found the side netting.

Pools responded quickly with Michael Woods able to drive to the byline on the right of the area before dragging a low ball back across for Jake Cassidy but the front man could only divert it just wide of the far post.

A sloppy pass in midfield from Pools inadvertently sent Blair Turgott through on goal but Louis Laing did ever so well to chase back and block the shot so the danger was averted.

Woods was causing problems breaking from midfield and he linked-up brilliantly with Rhys Oates on the edge of the area before driving inside to let fly with a shot which was blocked. It fell out as far as Lewis Hawkins on the right whose stinging low drive from twenty-five yards zipped across the surface and a drew a good save from Lee Worgan.

Pools did have the ball in the net on 21 minutes but a marginal offside call meant that Oates’ neat left-foot finish in to the bottom corner didn’t stand.

However, that disappointed was short-lived. Four minutes later Josh Hawkes threaded an incisive ball in to Oates just inside the area and when his low shot was parried by Worgan, Woods was there to finish first time on his left foot to celebrate his 10th goal of the season.

For a spell the game was scrappy but the hosts finished the first half on top, Will De Havilland hitting a rising drive over the bar before Joe Anderson tested Scott Loach with a well struck drive from the left corner of the box.

Loach was called in to action again in the final minute of the half when Stuart Lewis ran on to a ball on the edge of the area and hit a rasping drive which the Pools keeper did well to tip over the bar and protect the lead.

Maidstone pressed for a leveller at the start of the second half with plenty of possession but little cutting edge; Greg Luer put a shot just wide at the front post after a ball in from the right.

Pools could have doubled their lead on the hour mark after a lovely move down the right involving Woods, Conor Newton and Lewis Hawkins but, when the ball was fed in to Josh Hawkes on the right of the area, his low drive flashed wide of the far post.

Luer then broke through the offside trap to fire powerfully on goal from close range but Loach stormed from his line, made himself big and pulled off a terrific save to keep it at 1-0 to Pools.

Devante Rodney almost made an immediate impact after being introduced from the bench when he scampered on to Nicky Featherstone’s through ball but, having skipped round the keeper, the angle proved too tight and the defender recovered to block his shot.

The home side began ramping up the pressure as the final quarter of an hour approached and Loach was forced to tip another looping header over the bar and another was deflected during a spell of dangerous corners which Pools just about survived.

With two minutes left Pools seemingly  made the points safe when Cassidy was upended in the box by Alex Wynter and Woods made no mistake from the spot, despatching a low finish in to the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Just as seven minutes of injury time was displayed, the hosts grabbed a lifeline when Lafayette was able to pull a goal back from close-range after Pools failed to clear their lines.

That strike set up a nervy finish and Lafayette could even have levelled when he got on the end of a cross from the left but his header looped too high to trouble Loach and then Wynter drilled wide right at the death.

However, Pools managed to hang on to extend their unbeaten run and leapfrog their hosts in the National League table.

Full Time: Maidstone United 1 Pools 2

Maidstone United: Worgan, Hare, Finney, Wynter, Lewis, Anderson, Reason, Turgott (Loza 78), De Havilland (Paxman 84), Lafayette, Luer (Sam-Yorke 66).
Subs not used: Twumasi, Phillips.

Pools: Loach, Hawkins, Laing, Magnay, Adams, Featherstone, Newton, Hawkes, Woods, Cassidy, Oates (Rodney 66).
Subs not used: Catterick, Owen, Munns, Orrell.

Booked: Cassidy (56).

Attendance: 2,559 (209 Pools).

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