Antony Sweeney enjoyed a dream debut as caretaker boss as goals from Josh Hawkes, Gavan Holohan and Nicke Kabamba swept Pools to victory at Aldershot Town.
Hawkes’ early goal set the tone for Pools and the midfielder even missed a first half penalty, though Town also had chances and Ben Killip needed to make two good saves.
However, Pools turned the screw in the final quarter of an hour when Holohan climbed off the bench to prod a second before turning provided for Kabamba in injury-time.
Sweeney had opted to make two changes to the line-up for the trip to Hampshire, restoring Nicke Kabamba to the attack and handing a start to Hawkes in a midfield three.
It was the hosts who got straight on the front foot and began knocking the ball around with confidence, no doubt gained following their midweek win over Dover Athletic.
However, for all their domination of possession, it was Pools who grabbed an early lead when some hesitation at the back allowed Hawkes to drive at The Shots defence before cutting inside on his right foot to finish low under the keeper with just four minutes gone.
The goal knocked Town out of their stride and it could have been 2-0 inside fifteen minutes when Hawkes’ wicked cross from the right was met by Michael Raynes in the middle but his low effort was well blocked by keeper Mitch Walker.
The shock of almost conceding a second prompted a swift counter from the home side and the dangerous Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong escaped through one-on-one with Ben Killip but slipped his low shot wide of the post.
Killip had work to do a few minutes later when centre-back Max Hunt found some space twenty-five yards out to shoot and his low effort was excellently saved by the Pools keeper, who then sprung to his feet to claim the rebound.
There was then a glorious chance for Pools to double their advantage when Ryan Donaldson was chopped down just inside the box but Walker guessed right and was able to parry Hawkes’ tame penalty away and the home side survived.
Killip had to spring athletically to his right just before half-time to keep out Berkeley-Agyepong’s header after some inventive football down the right wing from the hosts.
The home side came out with renewed vigour at the start of the second half and only a perfect last-ditch tackle from Peter Kioso denied Ethan Chislett the chance to score when he looked odds on to level things up.
There was an even better chance on 55 minutes when Lewis Kinsella’s vicious cross from the left picked out Mo Bettamer in the centre but the front man somehow managed to lift his effort over the bar from five yards out.
Pools countered quickly and Hawkes let fly with a powerful drive which Walker did well to parry and the young midfielder couldn’t quite make anything of the rebound.
Shamir Mullings should have done better when an inswinging cross found him free twelve yards from goal but his side-foot volley was straight down Killip’s throat.
The introduction of Luke James and Gavan Holohan gave Pools another dimension during the final twenty minutes – indeed, Holohan had been on the pitch little over five minutes when he poked in the decisive second goal. James took Killip’s long kick down in to his stride with an exquisite first touch before feeding it on to Kabamba down the right and his low cross was met by the Irishman and was past Walker in a flash.
Raynes could have added the third when he met a corner from the right but his header flashed across goal and wide as a hint of a swagger began to show in Pools’ performance.
And the final touch of gloss was added in injury-time when Holohan got away down the right to return the favour for Kabamba who slid in at front post to connect with the low cross and make it 3-0.
Full Time: Aldershot Town 0 Pools 3
Aldershot Town: Walker, Tinkler, Lyons-Foster, Hunt, Kinsella, Powell, Berkeley-Agyepong (Eyoma 84), Santos, Chislett (Shields 84), Mullings (Rance 75), Bettamer.
Subs not used: Whittingham, Finney.
Pools: Killip, Kioso, Kerr, Raynes, Kitching, Mafuta, Featherstone, Donaldson (Kennedy 90), Hawkes (Holohan 75), Toure (James 66), Kabamba.
Subs not used: Richardson, Cunningham.
Booked: Mafuta (24).
Attendance: 2,768 (188 Pools).