Pools got their season up and running with a battling 1-0win over Maidenhead United at York Road on Saturday afternoon.
Niko Muir came off the bench to fire home the only goal to
give Craig Hignett's men their first victory of the new campaign at The Magpies'expense.
Having been frustrated by defeat to Sutton United and FC
Halifax Town during the opening week, Pools looked in determined mood as theytook to the field in Berkshire.
They began the game in confident fashion and dominated
possession in the opening stages, with midfield trio Nicky Featherstone, Gus Mafutaand Liam Noble dictating play.
The recalled Gime Toure was looking lively on the left-hand
side too to link with Mark Kitching, while on the other flank the returningRyan Donaldson and Peter Kioso were also providing a threat.
Pools won two corners inside the opening three minutes of
the game as they pressed their hosts back but Michael Raynes headed the secondof them over the crossbar.
Toure had a couple of shots from the edge of the area
blocked after jinking in to a bit of space, while former Pools man Jake Cassidydrove an effort far too high at the other end.
A thunderous challenge from Mafuta set Pools on their way
forward again but, when the ball was worked well for Toure, he lost his footingat the crucial time and sent a shot wide.
The home side came back in to it a little as the half
developed, Danny Whitehall tried his luck from long-range but his shot was
easily held by Ben Killip before full-back Rene Steer fired a decent effortjust too high from twenty yards.
The best chance arrived in the final minute of the opening
half when Toure again mesmerised the home defence before laying the ball on to
the overlapping Kitching and his cross found Ryan Donaldson as the far post whosent a diving header agonisingly wide.
Pools were forced in to a change during the break due to an
ankle injury for Kabamba so Muir – out of the squad in the opening two games –was given his opportunity to shine from the bench.
And the front man almost scored with his first touch just
three minutes after the restart but dragged a shot just wide, while Toure firedover moments after driving dangerously inside from the right.
However, on 53 minutes the opening goal arrived. Pools broke
quickly and Donaldson found space centrally, dribbling just inside the area
before sending a low shot across goal which was parried only as far as Muir andthe substitute couldn't miss from the rebound.
Toure could have made it 2-0 to Pools as Hignett's men
continued to control proceedings but this time the Frenchman's shot was deflectedwide of the goal after some typically tricky footwork.
Muir nearly doubled his own tally ten minutes from time
after a neat move gave him some space on the right of the area but he drilled alow effort across goal and wide from a tight angle.
Maidenhead threw plenty at Pools in the closing stages but
the defence – marshalled superbly by a dominant Michael Raynes – more than held
firm and, when there was a sniff of a chance, substitute Josh Kelly nodded atame effort straight at Ben Killip.
Full Time: Maidenhead United 0 Pools 1
Maidenhead United: Ashby-Hammond, Clerima, Steer, Twumasi, Davies (Mensah 60), Ellul, Cassidy (Kelly 72), Upward, Smile, Massey, Whitehall (Akintunde 64).
Subs not used: Fenelon, Mensah.
Booked: Steer, Smile.
Pools: Killip, Kioso, Kerr, Raynes, Kitching, Mafuta (Kennedy 89), Featherstone, Noble, Donaldson (Holohan 85), Toure, Kabamba (Muir 46).
Subs not used: Cunningham, Williams.
Booked: Kioso, Kitching.