Hartlepool United 2 Gateshead 1: Substitute strike closes gap in National League promotion race

Liam Noble slots home a penalty after seven minutes - his third penalty against Gateshead in 10 minutes across two games.
Liam Noble slots home a penalty after seven minutes - his third penalty against Gateshead in 10 minutes across two games.

Paddy McLaughlin popped with a goal off the bench to ensure Hartlepool United claimed all three points against his former side Gateshead.

Liam Noble's penalty put Pools in front before a Ryan Donaldson own goal levelled things up. McLaughlin then netted a second half winner for Money's men who claimed a 2-1 victory.

Paddy McLaughlin is congratulated after scoring Pools' winner against his former club Gateshead.

Paddy McLaughlin is congratulated after scoring Pools' winner against his former club Gateshead.

With that result Pools closed the gap to seventh-placed Heed to 10 points and climbed one place to 14th in the fifth tier table.

Money's hand was forced somewhat on the selection front with Harvey Rodgers ruled out through injury.

As a result he moved Carl Magnay to his more familiar central defensive role, with Nicky Featherstone restored to the starting XI.

Having been awarded two penalties in the final three minutes of play at the International Stadium, Pools were again given the chance to score from 12 yards just seven minutes into this encounter.

Noble scored one and missed one on Boxing Day, but he was in no mood to let this opportunity go begging as he sent Heed's reserve keeper Mark Foden the wrong way for 1-0.

In many ways this was a game which had familiar themes to the meeting six days previous - and while Noble's spot-kicks took centre stage, Gateshead's Robbie Tinkler - a summer target of former boss Matthew Bates - again hit the bar with a fabulous strike from 30 yards.

That was a warning shot for Pools in a half of football which they otherwise dominated.

Steve Watson sent his troops out more than five minutes early after his half-time team talk and that seemed to have an impact, as Heed looked livelier in the final third.

They carved open a chance to level on 50 minutes when a left wing cross found Steven Rigg - Scott Loach was equal to his effort. But in saving the Pools' stopper could only palm to Scott Boden who, with the goal at his mercy, fired over from eight yards. It's one he'll not want to see again.

Josh Hawkes had a quiet afternoon but he's the type of player who can make things happen out of nothing and he almost conjured some magic on the hour. He glided past two challenges in the area and was brought down for what looked the clearest penalty of both games between these sides only for the offside flag to save the visitors.

Defending set pieces has proved a real Achilles heel for this side, particularly without the presence of club captain Andrew Davies - and so it proved again when a routine looking free-kick from the Gateshead right was inexplicably flicked into his own net by Donaldson for 1-1.

Heed were level for just five minutes, though and one of Pools' substitutes had an almost instantaneous impact.

Former Gateshead midfielder McLaughlin was found in the area by Niko Muir and dispatched the ball through the legs of Mark Foden to put Pools back in the driving seat.

And that is where they stayed as Pools claimed their first three points of the Money era on home turf.