Pools’ six-goal thiller a great advert

Padraig Amond scores for Pools
Padraig Amond scores for Pools

If there was ever an advert for League Two football, this was it.

Having looked set for a first league defeat of the season, two goals in three minutes saw Pools snatch a dramatic point at Gresty Road.

Billy Paynter muscled past his marker and into the area, only to see his chipped effort drop just wide of the far post.

It looked for a long time as if the visitors would be made to rue and early miss from Billy Paynter, with Crewe then seizing the initiative through Chris Dagnall just after the half hour mark.

Pools then briefly drew level with Carl Magnay netting a fine curling effort just before the break.

But they weren’t level for long, as the lively Alex Kiwomya slotted home on the strike of half-time to hand the hosts the lead.

The lead was then extended when George Cooper’s cross beat everyone - including Pools’ stopper Trevor Carson.

And just as it looked as if Hartlepool would succumb to defeat, they were back in it as Padraig Amond grabbed his first goal for the club on 73 minutes.

Not content with one goal, Magnay then drew Craig Hignett’s side level three minutes later as he nodded home a free-kick at the far post.

Hignett ditched his preferred 4-3-3 formation for the trip to Gresty Road, instead opting for a 4-4-2 to match the hosts.

This meant a start for summer signings Amond and Nicky Deverdics, with Matthew Bates taking the place of the injured Rob Jones at the heart of the defence.

And the tactical choice looked to be working early on, with the visitors having a golden chance to take the lead after only seven minutes.

Billy Paynter muscled past his marker and into the area, only to see his chipped effort drop just wide of the far post as the Crewe defence collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

After this let-off Crewe started to display the passing football which Hignett alluded to pre-match, with Cooper seeing his chipped effort strike the foot of the post after he was played into the area by Ryan Lowe.

Crewe’s movement and fluidity was proving hard to deal with and, after another flowing move, Kiwomya’s drilled delivery was diverted over by Billy Bingham.

And the hosts’ next such move was to end with a goal, as Dagnall side-footed home from close range after Kiwomya had pulled the ball back.

Pools were struggling to create any clear-cut opportunities, with the front pairing of Paynter and Amond working hard but to little avail.

An equaliser was to come, albeit from an unlikely source as full-back Magnay cut inside from the right before curling past Ben Garratt from 25 yards.

Parity was short-lived, however, as the Railwaymen retook the lead on the stroke of half-time as Kiwomya controlled Lowe’s cross before slotting it into the bottom corner.

Craig Hignett’s side looked livelier after the break, pressing Crewe high up the pitch and looking to get in behind.

But they still found chances hard to come by, with Amond’s snapshot from 25 yards rolling harmlessly wide in what was the visitors’ only opportunity of note in the early stages after the break.

And United’s failure to convert possession into chances was punished on 57 minutes as Cooper’s 30-yard cross missed it’s intended target of Dagnall, only to beat Carson and nestle in the back of the net.

Hignett introduced Michael Woods in an attempt to seize control of the midfield and the former Chelsea did man did well to break up play and stop any more meaningful Crewe chances - Kiwomya firing high and wide from distance as he looked to seal the win.

The visitors weren’t faring much better though, with Nathan Thomas’s long-range effort failing to trouble Garratt.

Just as it looked as if Pools were down and out they were handed a lifeline - Amond springing the offside trap and stabbing home from Nicky Featherstone’s lofted ball through.

Pools were galvanised and committed players forward in search of an equaliser.

And they got it - Magnay stooping low head home from Thomas’ free-kick after ghosting in at the back post.

The late pressure was all from the hosts, with Toto Nsiala and Lewis Alessandra having to put their bodies on the line to keep the point intact.

There was no way past this time though, with Pools getting their point.