Pools won four league games in a row for the first time in almost three years as Liam Noble’s last-minute penalty secured a dramatic three points at Havant & Waterlooville.
The midfielder had struck Pools in front from the spot midway through the first half but it looked as though they would have to settle for a draw as the hosts levelled seven minutes from time.
However, with the clock ticking over to 90 minutes Mark Kitching was tripped in the box and Noble held his nerve to convert again from twelve yards and send the travelling fans in to raptures.
The victory brought to an end an unbeaten start to the season on home soil for The Hawks – indeed it was the first time they’d tasted defeat at Westleigh Park in almost a year.
Matthew Bates named an unchanged starting eleven for a fifth game in succession for Pools’ first ever meeting with Havant, Josh Hawkes and Kenton Richardson coming on the bench for the game.
The game started in scrappy fashion with neither side stringing together much possession though slowly but surely Pools began to get on top and look a threat going forward.
However, it was the hosts who created the first moment of danger when Nicke Kabamba got between Carl Magnay and Scott Loach but the Pools duo just about managed to prevent him netting his third of the season.
On 23 minutes Noble’s free-kick in to the box was directed towards Myles Anderson at the far post and when he went down under pressure from the defender the referee awarded a penalty – Noble doing the honours by tucking the ball home neatly in to the bottom left corner of the net.
Noble then tested the keeper again with a curling free-kick before Loach – making his 350th career appearance - was called in to action at the other end to prevent Theo Lewis’ goalbound header finding the net.
Pools carved out the first chance of the second half when Kitching sent a looping header agonisingly wide after getting on the end of Ryan Donaldson’s cross from the right following great work from Luke James.
Experienced Hawks midfielder Brian Stock sent a shot way too high and the hosts forced a series of corners but Pools were defending with determination, highlighted by great blocks from Myles Anderson and Peter Kioso.
As the game moved in to the final ten minutes the hosts began to press more and more, Loach had to be alert to save down low to his right after substitute Ryan Woodford sent a powerful header on goal – protests that the ball had crossed the line were waved away by the officials.
However, Pools didn’t heed the warning and on 83 minutes a free-kick from the right found Woodford again and this time he planted a superb looping header beyond Loach and in to the top corner to send the home crowd wild with delight.
The goal also gave the home players a shot in the arm and suddenly they sensed a first home win of the season could be on the cards – and they could have grabbed it had Donaldson not produced a wonderful goalline clearance to deny Paul Robinson what would surely have been a headed winner.
And that moment proved pivotal as Pools broke and the ball was fed across the box to the left where Kitching sneaked in behind an unsuspecting defender who then upended the wing-back to present Noble with the chance to be the match-winner.
The skipper took a deep breath and then strode up to send the ball flying in to the right corner of the net and clinch four straight wins in the league for the first time since March 2015.
Full Time: Havant & Waterlooville 1 Pools 2
Booked: Kioso (27), Woods (31)
Havant & Waterlooville: Young, Williams (Sekajja 72), Stock, Harris, Fogden, Lewis (Rutherford 61), Kabamba, Tarbuck, Carter, Rose (Woodford 45), Robinson.
Subs Not Used: Pavey, Cosgrave.
Pools: Loach, Kioso, Magnay, Anderson, Donaldson, Featherstone, Woods (McLaughlin 55), Noble (Newton 90), Kitching, Muir, James (Dinanga 72).
Subs Not Used: Richardson, Hawkes.