HARTLEPOOL United made it three away wins in a week after a convincing 3-0 against Exeter City in League Two.
Jack Compton was the star man, setting up two and scoring one himself, as Colin Cooper’s side continued their good form away from home after wins against Mansfield Town in the league and Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
It was an excellent performance from the away side and goals from Jack Baldwin in the first half and Compton and Luke James in the second secured the three points.
Manager Colin Cooper made two changes to the team for the League Two clash with Matthew Dolan returning from injury and Jack Baldwin back from suspension, with Darren Holden and Bradley Walker dropping down to the bench from the team that beat Sheffield United on Tuesday in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Pools, who started in a 4-4-1-1 formation, started brightly and Luke James could have given them the lead when the ball was flicked over the defence and he found himself free on goal but fired his shot wide of the left-hand post.
Alan Gow had the home side’s best chance but his low right-footed drive was deflected wide of the post for a corner in the 9th minute.
Tommy Doherty was the first to be booked in the 14th minute when he sliced down the pacy James Poole 10 yards from the half way line, but the resulting free-kick from Matty Dolan came to nothing.
Cooper’s side grew in confidence as the half wore on and looked more than comfortable against third-placed Exeter City.
And it was Pools that took the lead in the 20th minute courtesy of a flicked header from Baldwin, who headed home Jack Compton’s cross after good work from the pacy winger.
It followed a short corner involving Simon Walton and Compton, who dinked a ball with his left boot into the box, which was headed home.
Home defender Danny Butterfield was injured in the goal and was substituted by Jordan Moore-Taylor.
Cooper’s side visibly grew in confidence as the half wore on and Poole’s shot from distance was held in the 25th minute.
Compton then had a fierce strike comfortbaly held by Artur Kyrsiak in the home goal while Matthew Dolan’s lofted effort from the edge of the box saw the home keeper dive to his right to catch.
James again found himself bearing down on goal in the 30th minute after Poole put him clear on the half-way line but the 18-year-old shot wide under pressure from Danny Coles.
Exeter almost equalised when Craig Woodman’s ball wasn’t cleared and Pools almost gave away the lead but Christian Burgess eventually cleared it away.
The on-loan Middlesbrough defender then gave away a free-kick right on the edge of the area but the resulting strike from Craig Woodman hit the wall.
Pools started the second half the way they finished the first and took a deserved two goal lead courtesy of a fantastic lob over Krysiak from James.
James, who was found in the box in the 50th minute by Compton, took a touch and then delicately lobbed the keeper for 2-0.
It wasn’t long before Pools made it 3-0 thanks to a crisp strike from the excellent Compton after the ball broke free in the box and he drilled it into the back of the next in the 64th minute.
Goalscorer Luke James was replaced by Jonathan Franks in the 75th minute to a standing ovation from the away fans as the clock ticked down towards the 90 minute mark.
The home side were unable to break through the well-drilled Pools defence and Poole could have made it four in the 80nd minute after he dribbled through the centre of the home defence but his shot was easily held.
In truth it was a comfortable second half performance and Cooper’s side managed to hold on to secure the win and three more vital points on the road this week.
Exeter City: Artur Krysiak, Danny Butterfield (Moore-Taylor, 22), Craig Woodman, Scot Bennett, Pat Baldwin, Danny Coles, Liam Sercombe, Alan Gow (O’Flynn, 67), Arron Davies, Tommy Doherty, David Wheeler (Keohane, 45).
Subs: Christy Pym, Jordan Moore-Taylor, John O’Flynn, Tom Nichols, Jimmy Keohane, Jordan Tillson, Matt Grimes.
Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Neil Austin, Matthew Dolan, Christian Burgess, Jack Baldwin, Simon Walton, James Poole (Sweeney, 86), Andy Monkhouse, Jack Compton (Richards, 80), Michael Duckworth, Luke James (Franks, 75).
Subs: Andy Rafferty, Jonathan Franks, Antony Sweeney, Jordan Richards, Darren Holden, Nialle Rodney, Bradley Walker.
Referee: Andy Davies
Assistants: Richard Hulme, Paul Rees.
Attendance: 3,615 (144 Pools)