Hartlepool 2 Maidenhead 1: Featherstone cracker sees Pools claim first National League win

Nicky Featherstone celebrates scoring.
Nicky Featherstone celebrates scoring.

A Nicky Featherstone cracker ensured Hartlepool United claimed their first three points of the National League season.

Luke James got Pools off and running with a smart header to put them in front before Featherstone's delightful chip made it 2-0.

Featherstone's goal as it crossed the line.

Featherstone's goal as it crossed the line.

Alan Massey got a late consolation for Maidenhead. And despite a nervy final few minutes, Pools held on to get off the mark this campaign.

Having seen his side tear Braintree to shreds for around an hour of Pools' midweek draw down south, Matthew Bates stuck with the same starting XI in a slightly tweaked 3-5-2 formation.

Pools were not quite at the fluent vintage they displayed at Cressing Road but they had the better of the opening exchanges as Mark Kitching went close with a low drive and Michael Woods almost laid a third of the season on a plate for Niko Muir.

At the other end, as Poolies already know, Ryan Bird can be a threat in the air. And he came close to notching at the Vic again, but saw his flicked header from a searching centre skid wide.

At the break the game was goalless and to be honest, there were few complaints as neither side really did enough to earn a lead.

That all changed within two minutes of the restart as a cross by Ryan Donaldson found James in the area and the striker just had to guide home with his head to notch his first goal in his third spell at Pools.

Taking the game by the scruff of the neck, there then looked to be only one winner in the contest as Pools began to turn the screw.

Liam Noble cracked off the bar from long-range before Featherstone stole the show shortly before the hour mark.

He's not often a player who advances much beyond the central third of the field, but out of nowhere he made a burst into the opposition box.

One touch allowed him to round the keeper, but in doing so he was driven wide by Carl Pentney. With the chance seemingly over, Featherstone assessed his options and decided to try and guide over the top of the keeper. It was an act he executed perfectly, cue wild scenes at the Town End.

That looked to be that for this contest. But this is Pools we are talking about - a side who have contrived to throw away four points from winning positions already this campaign.

In the 79th minute an Adrian Clifton cross was headed in by skipper Massey.

Panic began to set in on the terraces but this time, that was not the case on the park as Pools saw the game out to claim a deserved maiden victory in 2018/19.