Hartlepool 2 Boreham Wood 0: Davies at the double as Pools edge back into National League play-off mix

Andrew Davies heads Pools in front in the opening 45.
Andrew Davies heads Pools in front in the opening 45.

Skipper Andrew Davies was Hartlepool United's matchwinner as he netted his first two goals in blue and white against Boreham Wood.

A first-half header from a Liam Noble cross gave Pools the lead before the captain rounded off a positive home show, and welcome three points, with another nod home, this time with Niko Muir the provider.

Davies celebrates his first goal in blue and white.

Davies celebrates his first goal in blue and white.

The win saw Pools climb back into the play-off mix, rising from eighth to sixth with their first win of the campaign by more than one goal.

An hour before kick off news broke that Matthew Bates would make one change to the Pools side which laboured to a 1-1 home draw with Aldershot a week previous.

That change was soon to be reversed though, as Paddy McLaughlin was removed from the XI and Michael Woods reinstated.

As poor as Pools were against the Shots, the expected bounce back failed to materialise as Boreham Wood dominated proceedings early on.

Striker Joshua Umerah had two early opportunities to register but his header from a left wing corner lacked direction when well placed then a weak shot was smothered by Scott Loach soon after.

Second best, Pools' first opening could and should have been a decisive one. A Luke James cross from the right found Mark Kitching in a central position six yards from goal, his connection was perfect, but the legs of Ellery Balcombe prevented the left-back opening his account for the club. From the rebound Noble, on a bit of an off day, scuffed with his left with the goal at his mercy and Muir's attempts at a deft flick back through the legs did not get enough of a connection to divert the skidding ball goalwards.

That seemed to spark everyone, on the park and in the terraces, into life at a particularly subdued Super 6 Stadium.

And with that increased noise and tempo, Pools grabbed hold of the game against their physical opponents and began to turn the screw.

Kitching was again involved as James turned his cross quite brilliantly at goal at the near post, only for Balcombe to again be equal to it. From resulting corner the opener came, though.

A well-worked short corner routine saw Noble chip a cross into the area and Davies rose highest to nod home powerfully for 1-0.

And that was the way it stayed at the break with Pools ending an up and down first 45 on top and in front.

As has been the case so often this season to date, a goal in front is not necessarily any indication that the three points would be staying at the Vic, with last weekend's Aldershot draw recent evidence of that.

And Pools almost gifted the opposition a route back into this encounter minutes after the restart as some lax defending allowed Gozie Ugwu space in the 18 yard box and when a lucky deflection fell to the striker his finish was less than accomplished, tamely rolling an effort in the general direction of Loach's goal and wide. It was a warning shot for Pools, who have been bitten in the backside in similar circumstances all too often on home turf.

With Boreham Wood seeing more and more of the ball, Pools looked to soak up the pressure and catch the opposition on the break, with James a constant nuisance, playing on the shoulder.

The striker was very unlucky not to register his second of the season when he fashioned an angle for himself in the area, with a near turn of a Boreham Wood defender, but Balcombe got down to parry wide.

As the game wore on referee Gareth Rhodes, the man in the middle on the day, became more and more under the spotlight.

His controversial decisions angered both sets of fans but he bore the wrath of Poolies' anger with around 20 minutes to go when he first turned down penalty appeals for what appeared to be a clear as day foul on Davies in the area, then when Peter Kioso was man-handled to the ground soon after from another set piece the referee again turned a blind eye.

Pools were not about to let this one slip away, though.

In the 82nd minute a Muir cross was perfectly floated into the area for a host of Pools bodies to attack and the most aggressive of the lot in the air Davies made no mistake with his head to make it 2-0 and secure all three points.