Hartlepool United 2-1 Eastleigh report and reflection – job done for Pools in awful conditions at Victoria Park

Relief washed over Victoria Park on Tuesday evening as Hartlepool United picked up their first win of 2020.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 2:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 3:00 pm
Hartlepool United's Gavan Holohan celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Eastleigh at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 7th January 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Hartlepool United's Gavan Holohan celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Eastleigh at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 7th January 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The 2-1 victory over Eastleigh was their first over the Spitfires in six attempts as second half goals from Gavan Holohan and Salford City loanee Mark Shelton proved to be enough.

Sam Smart equalised for the visitors within 30 seconds of Pools taking the lead but the hosts responded well and came out on top.

Strong winds at The Vic threatened to ruin the footballing spectacle, and for 45-minutes it more than succeeded as the 2,478 crowd endured a turgid first half.

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An early injury to Michael Raynes proved to be the only real talking point as the defender now faces a spell out.

In the first half, Pools dominated possession in a frustratingly lacklustre manner sapped of any real urgency or intent. This was made worse by the fact that they were up against a severely depleted Eastleigh side who named just four players on the bench.

The Spitfires were there to be shot down yet Pools typically struggled to take advantage as they failed to test the goalkeeper until after the break.

Hartlepool looked more of a threat from the restart as they utilised their width to expose Eastleigh and break the deadlock.

Six minutes into the second half, Ryan Donaldson’s teasing cross was fumbled by Max Stryjek and tapped in by Holohan for his eighth of the season.

But Hartlepool have a habit of being sucker punched and Smart’s stunning half-volley to immediately level the scores could have taken the wind out of their sails.

But the hosts responded well and got back on top as Shelton tapped in Mark Kitching’s cross for his first Pools goal just after the hour mark.

The home side were able to hang on for a big three points that made use of their game in hand. It wasn’t convincing but they got the job done and that’s all that matters at the moment.

The side have got through the nightmarish festive schedule with seven points from a possible 15 which isn’t great but is still their best return over that period since they were relegated to the National League.