VETERAN defender Sam Collins today returned to the Hartlepool United starting line-up at high-flying Mansfield Town.
Boss Colin Cooper opted for a 4-5-1 system to try to counter the Stags’ 3-5-2 formation which meant Collins came on alongside Christian Burgess at central defence.
On-loan Middlesbrough Midfielder Marty Dolan though failed a fitness test on a groin injury and Jack Baldwin was used alongside Simon Walton in centre midfield.
Reserve keeper Andy Rafferty did come through a fitness check on his groin problem.
Pools almost conceded a fifth minute goal for the second week running.
Mansfield swung in a free-kick which John Demeter headed back across goal for Ryan Tafazoli whose header came back off Scott Flanders right hand post and the defender put the rebound over.
Pools took the lead in the seventh minute with an ANDY MONKHOUSE screamer
Monkhouse flicked on Flinders goalkick and then got the ball back off Michael Duckworth before advancing and unleashing a rocket from 25 yards which flew past Alan Marriott.
Pools were denied a stonewalled penalty for the second successive Saturday on 20 minutes.
Luke James was brought down in the box but referee Graham Harwood instead of pointing to the spot booked the teenager for diving.
It upset Pools greatly but it did not put them off their football.
Marriott pulled off a great 22nd minute save to deny Jack Compton.
Such was the excellence of the away display, Stags boss Paul Cox made a tactical change midway through the half, withdrawing defender Tafazoli and going 4-4-2 with London Merkel coming on in midfield.
Compton played Monkhose on 33 minutes, the scorer going down under Marriott’s challenge.
There were no penalty appeals this time ... Or yellow cards.
But Pools went two up a minute before half-time when COMPTON cut in from the right and beat Marriott with a left foot stunner from 15 yards.
It was no more than Pools deserved
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