Ryan Noble made a promise to manager Neale Cooper that he would end Hartlepool United’s goal drought – and the Sunderland loanee kept good his pledge with the decisive strike at Yeovil Town, writes Craig Hope.
Pools went into the game searching for their first goal in nearly seven hours and Noble trying to find his maiden professional effort.
And both of those quests came good 20 minutes into the second half when Noble showed razor-sharp reactions to seize upon a dropping ball inside the area and volley into the roof of the net.
But it was a far from fluid performance from Cooper’s men and the hosts should have been ahead inside 90 seconds when Jack Baldwin’s stray pass presented Andy Williams with a chance to run at the Pools backline.
Stepping away from both Neil Austin and Sam Collins, the forward drove into the area only to loose his cool and slice over the crossbar with just Scott Flinders to beat.
Encouraged by Williams’ foray, team-mate Lawson D’Ath was next to slalom his way through a panicked Pools rearguard and only a strong, one-armed save from Flinders denied the on-loan Reading youngster a seventh-minute opener.
Tony Sweeney was then presented with a gift at the other end when goalkeeper Sam Walker spilled Austin’s up ‘n’ under but the midfielder was unable to capitalise and his six-yard header failed to reach the gaping goal.
It wasn’t long before Flinders was again called into action and this time he had to be on his guard to brush wide a curling Josh Morris free-kick on the half-hour mark.
Pools lost Peter Hartley to a knee injury soon after, the defender leaving the field on a stretcher and in obvious discomfort, and Ritchie Humphreys was introduced.
Still Yeovil enjoyed the best of the attacking territory and Williams was next to have a go, escaping the attention of Collins on the edge of the area, but his low drive was repelled by that man Flinders.
A rare sight at goal for the visitors saw Humphreys drill wide from 18 yards after Gary Liddle had done well to tee up the substitute.
Pools’ scoreless stretch extended to 455 minutes as the first half was brought to a close and it looked like being another frustrating afternoon for the travelling fans.
But Noble intervened to bring that drought to an end as he hooked home an instinctive volley from close range on 65 minutes.
Pools were forced to withstand some late Yeovil pressure but Flinders dealt with all that was pumped into his penalty box and the visitors returned home with a hard-earned three points.