Hartlepool United 1 Dagenham 2: Late collapse sees Pools lose SEVENTH National League game on the bounce

Liam Noble slots home from the spot.
Liam Noble slots home from the spot.

Liam Noble's ninth goal of the season looked to have ensured Hartlepool United secured their first win in SIX National League games, but late drama robbed them of three points.

The midfielder's 13th minute penalty put Pools ahead for much of the encounter until Daggers' Ben Goodliffe scored in the 90th minute then Matt Robinson popped up with an unlikely winner.

Craig Hignett, selecting his first team since taking the reins as caretaker, made three changes to Matthew Bates' last game in charge.

And it was a case of common sense changes from Hignett, as he brought back arguably three of Pools' best performers this campaign in Niko Muir, Noble and Peter Kioso.

Noble, after all of the controversy of recent weeks, was an influence from the off.

A ball in from the right found its way to Mark Kitching at the back post and he was adjuded to have been pulled back by a Daggers defender and referee Joe Hull pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Mr Reliable from 12 yards Noble, to send the keeper the wrong way.

Josh Hawkes, playing off the front two in a 3-4-1-2, found space between the lines of Dagenham's midfield and back four. He was a constant thorn in their side as he saw two efforts palmed away by keeper Elliot Justham.

With the game finely poised at the break, but Pools well worth their lead, the hosts went on the attack in the second period.

And Carl Magnay was within inches of making it 2-0 on the hour.

An excellent delivery from a corner from the left by Noble, Magnay gets a head on it from six yards but his contact is weak and it skims off his forehead and wide.

The usual retreat deep by the Pools' lines did not happen - a distinct change under Hignett - as the home side continued to push for more. Hawkes continued to make space and Luke James caused issues with his clever runs down the left.

Skipper, top-scorer and talisman Noble was an influence throughout, more than justifying his first-team recall.

He struck the foot of the post on 74 after a clever jink to find space, he was tee'd up by James.

But as the changes came off the bench, it was one in particular that proved controversial.

Kitching was taken off with two minutes to go and replaced on the left by Conor Newton, who gave away a needless foul for the leveller.

A chipped ball in saw Goodliffe score with his head at the back post.

Then, having dominated from start to 88th minute, Pools were hit on the break. Another burst down the left from the Daggers saw a cross find Robinson in space in the box and he scored a winner to complete a smash and grab raid.