Mark Kitching scored the only goal of the game as Pools got
their festive period off to the perfect start with a win over Dagenham &
The full-back found the net for the first time on home soil
when he latched on to Tyler Hamilton's incisive through ball ten minutes fromtime to finally break the visitors' stiff resistance.
Dave Challinor made five changes for the contest, restoring
Ben Killip, Michael Raynes and Gime Toure to the starting eleven and handingdebuts to Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton.
Pools began on the front foot and almost stole in front on four
minutes when Nicky Featherstone's raking switched pass was collected on the chest
by Peter Kioso and sat up nicely for a shot but the full-back volleyed justwide from twenty yards.
Challinor's men were dominating possession in the early
stages but were up against a resolute and determined Daggers' backline whichmade it difficult for Pools to pick a way through.
More good football from Pools worked an opening for debutant
Mark Shelton on the edge of the but the midfielder's well-struck shot was justtoo high.
Alex McQueen had the visitors' first effort of note but hit
a tame shot at Ben Killip from the left corner of the box, while Ryan Donaldson
nodded a Gary Liddle ball back across goal but nobody gambled for Pools and TheDaggers survived.
Josh Hawkes then unloaded from thirty yards to bring the
first real save from Elliot Justham who did well to tip the ferocious shot overhis bar.
Justham had to alert again not long after when Hawkes let
fly again and this time his swerving, dipping drive was pawed away by the
Dagenham keeper with Gime Toure's attempts to make something of the rebound cutshort by an offside flag.
Michael Raynes had to be in the right place at the right
time to snuff out a dangerous counter-attack as half-time approached, the defending
using all of his experience to intercept Joan Luque's ball as Dagenham brokefor the first time.
Kioso then headed over from Donaldson's whipped right-wing
corner as Pools pressed right up until the break but remained frustrated bytheir visitors at the half-time whistle sounded.
The same kind of patter developed in the second half though,
with Pools enjoying the lion's share of possession and Peter Taylor's sidecontinuing to live on the break.
However, they almost came unstuck when Donaldson whipped a
wonderful ball in from the right towards Toure which the Frenchman bundledtowards goal where it was brilliantly kept out by Justham.
Pools kept knocking at the door though; Nicky Featherstone
dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area, Toure hit a shot straight at thekeeper and then another just wide as patience began to stretch.
With just thirteen minutes left the decisive moment arrived.
Toure slipped a ball inside toward Hamilton – just on as a substitute – and the
loan star produced a perfect first touch to release Kitching in to the area tofinish on his right foot.
It could have been 2-0 almost immediately as Toure fired
over from close range after good work from substitute Nicke Kabamba, whileShelton hit a rasping drive just a yard too high from twenty yards.
In the end though, Kitching's goal was enough and Pools got their
Christmas wish of three points – now to carry it on throughout the festiveperiod.
Full Time: Pools 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Pools: Killip, Kioso, Liddle, Raynes, Kitching,
Mafuta (Kabamba 65), Featherstone, Shelton, Donaldson, Hawkes (Hamilton 77),Toure.
Subs not used: Richardson, Kerr, Holohan.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Onariase, Croll (W
Wright 83), Clark, Brundle, Kandi, Stevenson, Luque (Grant 81), Eleftheriou(Graham 75), Quigley, McQueen.
Subs not used: Seaden, D Wright.
Attendance: 3,259 (33 Dagenham)
Referee: Peter Gibbons.