A three-mendous way to celebrate Christmas for Pools in 1995

Keith Houchen.
Keith Houchen.
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As Christmases go, this was right up there with the very best for Pools. A 3-0 win away from home, two days before Christmas. It was as good as it gets.

And with Keith Houchen firing on all cylinders, Pools were good value for their victory.

Brian Horne.

Brian Horne.

It was Mansfield who went on the attack first but their tenth minute shot from Stewart Hadley did not trouble Pools keeper Brian Horne. Then it was Pools who took up the momentum and went close with efforts from Reddish and Houchen.

An end-to-end match changed when Pools took the lead on 26 minutes and it came after a slip-up in the home defence. Lynch played a long ball into the Mansfield half and defender Hackett slipped on the wet surface as he was about to intercept. Houchen pounced and swept home a bobbling shot from 18 yards.

The visitors kept up the pressure and had a corner on 29 minutes which Mansfield cleared. At the other end, dreadful finishing from the home team didn’t help their cause.

It was not until the 41st minute that Horne had to make his first save of note. Sherlock drove an effort straight at him.

Hartlepool United gave supporters a wonderful Christmas present with a 3-0 victory at Mansfield Town

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1995

The second half saw a different Mansfield come out and they looked more determined. Horne was tested early on by Ireland whose curling effort went close.

But their wayward shots were still costing them dear. Ireland crossed for Sherlock but his header which was meant for goal went in the wrong direction. And a Dolan shot from 15 yards went well wide of the target. Dolan went closer on 58 minutes but Mansfield still could not find the target.

The match stayed at 1-0 until the 78th minute when Halliday crossed a ball which evaded the reach of Mansfield keeper Bowling. Instead, it reached Houchen who fired home from the six-yard box.

Mansfield tried to rally and went close with a shot which Horne did well to push over the bar.

But the game was secured on 81 minutes when Halliday made a strong run into the Mansfield area and finished well when he won a one-on-one with the Mansfield keeper.

Hartlepool: Horne, Ingram, McAuley, Billing, McGuckin, Henderson, Reddish, Tait, Houchen, Halliday, Lynch. Subs; Howard, Jones, Oliver.

Mansfield: Bowling, Boothroyd, Hackett, Dolan, Kilcline, Peters, Ireland, Parkin, Harper, Hadley, Sherlock. Subs; Eustace, Barber, Slawson.

Referee: P. Taylor (Cheshire).