Hartlepool United skipper Billy Paynter not the only success story in win over Rotherham

Billy Paynter scores Hartlepool United Reserves' second goal against  Rotherham (red) at Billingham. Picture by KEVIN BRADY
Billy Paynter scores Hartlepool United Reserves' second goal against Rotherham (red) at Billingham. Picture by KEVIN BRADY
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Billy Paynter may have captured the headlines – but the captain’s comeback was not the only story of Hartlepool United’s reserve team win.

Of course, the return from injury by the club captain and talisman was big news given Paynter has been absent since November 7.

He came through an hour with no problems at Bedford Terrace before coming off at the planned time

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And the striker did not disappoint – finding the net in the 4-0 romp against Rotherham yesterday.

He came through an hour with no problems at Bedford Terrace before coming off at the planned time.

It was a case of so far, so good for Paynter, who was watched from the directors box by boss Ronnie Moore, assistant Sam Collins and physio Ian Gallagher.

While the 31-year-old – still the top scorer on seven goals despite being out two and a half months – may have to wait a week or two for a resumption in first-team colours, a number of team-mates might be a little closer to playing on the evidence of yesterday’s victory.

Matthew Bates, who has missed the last three matches with a toe injury, strolled through the Final Third Development League fixture before he too came off after an hour.

Rakish Bingham made it two goals inside two days as he followed up his stunner in the 3-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley with a fine finish against the Millers.

The forward, who has been on the bench for Pools’ last four games, will surely be a candidate for a start at the Abbey Stadium.

And while Connor Smith will not start against the U’s, he reminded his bosses what a bright plater he is by scoring twice and having an assist for John Hewitson’s side yesterday.

There was also an encouraging outing for Jamie McDonagh, one of two trialists from Sheffield United. The 19-year-old looked lively out on the left, though it was hard to judge his fellow Blade, central defender, Julian Banton, who had little to do.

Smith helped Pools on their way when he set up Bingham to put Pools in front in the 15th minute.

Paynter made it 2-0 inside three minutes after good work by Smith and Josh Nearney. The Scouser was then inches away from another when his low shot just missing the keeper’s right stick.

Brad Walker was unlucky to have a ‘goal’ disallowed after he skipped through to score, only for the linesman to rule he had fouled a defender.

The same linesman’s offside flag then denied McDonagh, who finished from close range from a delicious Smith cross.

Pools added two goals in the second period, both from the right foot of Smith.

There was an element of good fortune in the 48th minute when keeper Laurence Bilboe made a real howler to let in Smith’s lob from the edge of the area.

But there was no luck to his second in the 67th minute, his powerful 18-yard shot flying in after a fine crossfield ball from McDonagh.

Smith was denied a hat-trick by Bilboe, who beat out his shot after Nearney had driven forward. Bilboe also made a good save from a Walker screamer late on, while teenage sub Liam Travers also went close.

Pools: Bartlett, Nearney, Bates (Turnbull 61), Banton, Jones, Cunningham, Smith, McDonagh, Walker, Paynter (Travers 61), Bingham (Elliott 61).

Subs not used: Dawson, Hawkes.