'˜Good things come to those who wait' - Liam Kennedy's Hartlepool United analysis
Twelve and a half weeks, 88 days, eleven games.
It feels like a lifetime since Hartlepool United last recorded a win, but Craig Harrison’s men managed to do just that on Saturday, seeing off Woking at Victoria Park.
And while the scoreline suggests this was a close encounter, in truth it was anything but.
They say good things come to those who wait and Devante Rodney’s first National League goal, which opened the scoring, was definitely one to savour.
The former Sheffield Wednesday striker worked some space for himself in the Woking area before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed effort that fizzed past Nathan Baker for 1-0.
Almost in disbelief, the Town End erupted. The fans who have made the pilgrimage to Victoria Park this campaign have had too few of these moments, in a season that has promised so much but delivered so little.
Buoyed by edging in front, the Pools players seemed to grow in confidence. And while the influence and legs of goalscorer Rodney and Rhys Oates up top cannot be overstated, a bit further back the other player thrown into the ranks was also making sure his voice was heard.
Luke George, playing out of position on the right of a back four, was a constant voice, hassling and organising. When he was signed in the summer he was seen as the answer to Pools’ problems in an organisational sense as well as adding some grit and determination. On this show it is easy to see why he has been so missed.
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If there was disbelief at the first, it was unbridled joy for the second. And it emphatically came courtesy of Jake Cassidy.
The striker took the ball with two defenders at his back on the edge of the area, and even though he looked to have been edged out of danger, on the angle he turned to smash a cracker into the top corner.
It was 3-0 a minute before the break as Pools continued to run riot.
Conor Newton, again looking much improved, managed to recycle the ball, chipping into the area - just as Baxter looked to claim it Oates managed to out-jump the keeper and nod home. It was no less than the hosts deserved after producing 30 minutes of first-half magic. Every time they conjured an attack they looked like adding to their advantage.
It was the same again after the break, with the 15 minutes in the dressing room doing little to change either side’s approach. Pools continued to press the opposition high.
Cassidy went in search of his second, seeing a 30-yard strike tipped over by Baxter, and Rodney also went close for Harrison’s men, streaking clear but could only find the stand eight yards from goal.
The last half hour was a non-event, with Pools happy to keep Woking at arms length and the visitors content to just get it over and done with.
Reece Grego-Cox did smash a consolation past Scott Loach, a virtual spectator in this one, before sub Jonathan Edwards netted with one of the last touches of an entertaining afternoon, but it mattered little in the end as 12 weeks and four days after beating Halifax Town 4-0, Poolies could once again celebrate three well-earned points. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait too as long for the next one.