Hartlepool Utd 0 Coventry City 5: Baptism of fire for Hughes

Hartlepool United's James Poole and Coventry City's Blair Adams (right) battle for the ball.
Hartlepool United's James Poole and Coventry City's Blair Adams (right) battle for the ball.

JOHN Hughes endured a nightmare start to his Hartlepool United reign as Coventry City ran out easy 5-0 winners at Victoria Park, writes Craig Hope.

The result leaves Pools nine points from safety at the bottom of League One and without a win in 17 matches.

Mark Robins’ men were good value for their rout, although it took until the second half for skipper Carl Baker to find the opener.

The floodgates opened thereafter and a David McGoldrick penalty was followed by further goals from Baker, Franck Moussa and Adam Barton.

Hughes recalled Ritchie Humphreys at the expense of Simon Walton with his first team selection, while there were also starts for Darren Holden and Ryan Noble with Steve Howard (suspension) and Jordan Richards missing out.

Ryan Noble was first to threaten and he drew a double save from Joe Murphy, the visiting keeper first parrying the striker’s 20-yard blast before shinning clear when Noble returned on target with a low stab.

Jonathan Franks was next to take aim and Murphy was forced to smuggle around the upright when the winger levelled towards the bottom corner from just outside the area.

Within seconds of that chance Noble was away in the clear.

The Sunderland loanee managed to escape centre-back Richard Wood but his left-foot swipe drew wide of Murphy’s goal.

That blistering start soon subsided and it was the visitors who finished the half the stronger of the sides.

McGoldrick stung the palms of Scott Flinders with a vicious volley from the edge of the area on 34 minutes.

The same player then hooked on goal from close range after Pools had failed to clear Baker’s corner but Paul Murray was guarding the upright and he headed clear.

But the Sky Blues did break through six minutes after half-time, Baker seeing a 20-yard drill find its way into the back of the net via the base of Flinders’ post.

Within five minutes it was two when Andy D’Urso pointed to the spot after Humphreys had used his arm to block Gary McSheffrey’s goal-bound curler, McGoldrick stepping up to tuck home from 12 yards.

By the hour mark the result was out of sight as Baker controlled and spun at the far post before firing through the grasp of Flinders.

Moussa was denied a fourth by the fingertips of Flinders when he smashed towards the bottom corner on 71 minutes.

But Moussa had his goal soon after when he was afforded the freedom of the penalty area before steering beyond the exposed Flinders.

Substitute Adam Barton then got in on the act when he hammered home with his first touch after coming on.

The full-time whistle sounded to boos from the home crowd with Hughes facing an uphill task with the current set of players if they are to avoid relegation.