O’Connell’s strike in the third minute of stoppage time completed an impressive second half turnaround from the home side after Pools had taken a deserved lead into the break following Bryn Morris’ first goal for the club.
Stockdale described his side as ‘shocking’ in the first half as Pools dominated large parts of proceedings under the stewardship of assistant manager Michael Nelson who stood in for Graeme Lee with the Pools boss testing positive for COVID-19.
But Stockdale was able to get a tune from his players after the break as they flipped the game on its head with Dale in the ascendancy throughout the second 45 minutes.
Jimmy Keohane levelled the scores just after the hour with a close range finish before Max Clark saw a goal ruled out for offside.
But Pools were unable to stem the tide as the hosts found a winner deep into injury time with O’Connell’s solo strike.
“They say that two halves of football are never the same and I think that was really evident today,” said Stockdale.
“I thought first half we were shocking. Really, really poor. I didn’t enjoy us one little bit.
“The players were reminded at half time of what I expect. We can talk about tactics, and maybe I got it slightly wrong in the first half, but that doesn’t stop you from having a desire and running and competing and even the basics of passing the ball to each other.
“But fair credit to the players, what a brilliant second half. We were the really good version of ourselves and probably in the end deserved to win the game.
“Even though Hartlepool had the first half, we had the second. I think we actually created a lot more opportunities in that second half than they did in the first.
“Hartlepool gave us a lot of problems in the first half but we stuck in and didn’t concede the second which would have been a killer for us and in the second half we were superb.
“But it took a fantastic strike from our captain in the last minute and there’s not many better ways to win a football match.”