Barrow 1 Hartlepool United 2: Carl Magnay cracker seals three crucial points in relegation dogfight

Conor Newton turns home Pools' opener.
Conor Newton turns home Pools' opener.

A Carl Magnay goal of the season contender sealed ensured Hartlepool United claimed all three points to stretch away from the National League relegation zone.

A Barrow opener from former striker Luke James was cancelled out by Conor Newton on the stroke of half-time before Magnay struck the winner.

The win, only Pools' second in 18 games, opened up a three point gap to the fifth tier's bottom four.

Pools got off to the worst possible start when former striker James made them pay for some awful defending.

A straight ball cut the Pools backline in half and James, who only signed for the Bluebirds in January after his release from Forest Green, ghosted in behind a static Scott Harrison and slid under the advancing frame of Scott Loach for 1-0.

That's five in five games for James. What Pools would do for a striker with that kind of ratio.

To be honest, prior to the goal Pools were on top, carving open chances and using their width to stretch the opposition on home turf. But after James' strike, they never quite looked the same.

Pace and power up top caused the Hartlepool back four all kind of problems, with James a particular thorn in the side and the bursting runs of Asa Hall a constant concern.

That was, until stoppage time at the end of the half, when Pools somehow worked a leveller.

A Jake Cassidy flick saw Rhys Oates challenge keeper Steve Arnold and Newton was on hand to turn home from close range.

Much like they did in the opening 45, Pools started off the second half on the front foot.

And where they did not make their dominance count early doors they were not about to make the same mistake again.

If you think you've seen some Pools crackers of late, skipper Magnay trumped it on 50 minutes - the defender found the ball at his feet in space 35 yards from goal and he did not hesitate in lashing into the top corner of Arnold's goal.

A goal of the season contender from Magnay.

Confidence then flowed for Bates' Pools. And instead of retreating into their shell, Pools peppered the Bluebirds' goal. Michael Woods went close with a long-range effort and sub Devante Rodney almost added to his tally, but for Arnold's acrobatics.

Some heroic defending late on, with Harrison limping on through the final 10 minutes, ensured Pools showed yet more character to grind out a result.

The win also made it three games unbeaten for Pools under Bates. Whatever the potential new owners' thoughts on the caretaker, he's making their decision about the future a very difficult one.

A takeover agreed and three points - what more could Pools ask for? A near perfect day. And who'd have thought that after the news we all woke up to this morning.