Hartlepool United 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 1: Match reaction, Pools close in on safety

Jake Carroll scores from Nathan Thomas's free-kick. Picture by FRANK REID
Jake Carroll scores from Nathan Thomas's free-kick. Picture by FRANK REID
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Craig Hignett saluted his team for their rapid opening salvo after taking Hartlepool United a major step towards League Two safety.

Pools won an open basement battle with Dagenham & Redbridge 3-1 at Victoria Park thanks to goals by Billy Paynter (pen), Jake Carroll and Jake Gray.

Paynter converted a fourth-minute penalty before Carroll doubled the lead 10 minutes later.

The Daggers were not short of chances but their only response was a Matt Cash screamer and Gray's sixth goal of the season settled it in the second half.

Pools are now seven points above second-bottom York and nine better off than the Eastenders - they also have three games in hand on the pair, the first coming at Newport on Tuesday night.

"To follow up what we did last Saturday with a 3-1 win is really pleasing," said Hignett. "We started the game really well, I thought that was as good a start as we've had because we have been slow starters.

"To go 2-0 up, we looked comfortable. But we then gave a away a sloppy goal, it got a bit tetchy and we sat back a little bit, which was probably understandable given the gravity of the situation.

"I made a [tactical] change with Jake Gray in the second half, it seemed to work and Jake scored straight away and at 3-1 we were comfortable-ish."

Hignett hopes defender Rob Jones will be fit for the trip to South Wales on Tuesday after coming off at half-time after taking a bang to the head late in the first period.

"He got an elbow and got a nasty lump on his eye," said the manager. "He didn't feel himself so, as a precaution, we brought him off.

"I think he will be OK for Tuesday."

Hignett added that he has no interest in the drama currently gripping Middlesbrough, where, it appears, head coach Aitor Karanka could be on the brink of leaving the Sky Bet Championship promotion favourites.

And the 45-year-old former Boro star and assistant boss insisted all his thoughts and efforts are with Pools.

"What happens over the way [at Boro] is for them to deal with – I’ve got enough on my plate here,'' he said.