Hartlepool United 3 Woking 2: Three-goal first-half show ends Pools' 12 week wait for a win
Hartlepool United claimed all three points for the first time since November 21, as they ran riot against Woking at Victoria Park
First-half strikes from Devante Rodney, Jake Cassidy and Rhys Oates ensured Pools ended a bleak winter run without a win, which stretches back a remarkable 88 days, to ease relegation fears.
Reece Grego-Cox and Jonathan Edwards did get late consolations for the visitors, but the result was never really in doubt.
On the selection front Craig Harrison was down to the bare bones, with four kids - Ryan Catterick, Liam Pritchard, Josh Hawkes and Jacob Owen - named alongside Lewis Hawkins on the Pools bench.
Luke George returned after a lengthy spell on the sidelines while Oates was also given the nod with Rodney to support Cassidy in an attacking looking 4-3-3.
Scrappy, disjointed and with little quality - it's fair to say the opening quarter hour of this encounter did little to get pulses racing.
But one man who did not read that script was Rodney, who 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 Oates up top cannot be understated, a bit further back the other player thrown into the ranks was also making sure his voice was heard.
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.
If there was disbelief at the first, it was unbridled joy for the second. And it emphatically came courtesy of frontman 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. That goal was no less than his performances in recent weeks have deserved.
It was 3-0 a minute before the break as Pools continued to look rampant.
Conor Newton, again looking much improved, managed to recycle the ball from the right hand side, 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, with Woking looking reasonably dangerous on the break but porous at the back.
Cassidy went in search of his second and Pools' fourth, seeing a 30 yard strike tipped over by Baxter, and Rodney also went close for Harrison's men, streaking clear to beat the last man but only succeeding in finding the stand when well placed, eight yards from goal.
The last half hour was a bit of a none event from both sides, with Pools happy to keep Woking at arms length and the visitors seemingly content to just get it over and done with. Bar one or two long-range efforts this was done as a contest the moment Oates jumped highest on the stroke of half-time.
Grego-Cox did smash a consolation past Scott Loach, a virtual spectator in this one, before sub 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.