Hartlepool United's 2-1 win at Torquay analysed with manager Craig Hignett
Hartlepool United claimed their second consecutive National League victory against Torquay United on Saturday afternoon.
The 2-1 triumph takes Pools up to ninth in the table having lost just once in their last six matches.
A first Hartlepool goal for Jason Kennedy and a stunning late winner from Peter Kioso cancelled out Jamie Reid’s second half equaliser for Torquay and proved to be the difference at Plainmoor.
It also helped Craig Hignett’s side gather momentum following their impressive 4-2 win over Wrexham on Bank Holiday Monday.
While United were ruthless and effective against The Dragons, they showed a different side to their game after making the mammoth 365 mile trip down to Torquay, backed by a 226 strong Poolie following.
A bright start from Pools saw Kennedy head the visitors into the lead before having numerous chances to extend their advantage and a goal ruled out for offside against Gime Toure.
“We’d been dominant early on and made so many chances,” Hignett said.
“Their ‘keeper made so many good saves today, the one from Fraser Kerr was unbelievable, he was man of the match and was excellent for them.”
With Hartlepool 1-0 up at the break, Torquay came out strong in the second half as Reid turned and fired the ball into the top right corner of the goal just six minutes after the restart.
After that, it was all Torquay for an extended spell as the home side pegged their opponents back with some dominant possession play.
“Torquay were poor in the first half so I knew they’d come at us and be better in the second,” added the Pools manager.
“They played some really good stuff, their wide-men are good players and their striker is a good player too. It’s exactly what I expected from a Gary Johnson side.
“We were disappointed with their goal, the striker turning on the edge of the box shouldn’t really happen but I thought we dealt with it really well.
“We stuck together and had a decent shape after 10 minutes of going missing and at the end we looked a real threat.
“I knew the tides would turn and the last 10, 15 minutes we started to feel like ourselves.
“There always is a point where you think you’re not going to win the game. When they scored, the momentum is obviously with them and it was a big 15 minutes after that.
“The most important thing is we didn’t give them any sniffs and if you look at the chances on the whole, we created far more than they did and should have won more comfortably.
“But when you’re under pressure and they score, you do think the worst but with the players we have, I would always back us to create chances and they’ve always got a chance of scoring a goal.”
With 10-minutes remaining, Pools grabbed a winner in some style as Toure controlled Ryan Donaldson’s nod down before spraying the ball out wide for Kioso to launch a rocket of a strike into the left corner.
“It was an unbelievable strike, as soon as he hit it I thought it was in,” Hignett admitted.
“There wasn’t much Torquay could do, it was a great piece of play with the overlap and the fantastic finish from Peter. It had to be a strike like that to beat the ‘keeper today because he was outstanding.
“It was fantastic for us all because it gave us a real boost and set-up the last 10-minutes as we had something to defend.
“We had to be right at the back too because if we weren’t, they were really threatening and dangerous.
“The pleasing thing is that we can pass it around and dominate games but when we’re under pressure we want that bit of determination and pride to keep the ball out and we certainly had that today.
“I said to our lads that not many teams will come here and roll them over on their own patch like we did.”
With Torquay dominating possession and looking the more likely to win the game with the score level, it was a real test of the Hartlepool players’ and manager’s resolve as they remained stubborn with their game plan.
The faith shown by Hignett in his players to weather the storm instead of panicking deserves praise all around as things could have easily swung the other way.
“We should have been out of sight but we weren’t and we had to stick with what we were doing,” the Hartlepool manager said.
“It’s hard when you’re under pressure to stick with your game plan. It’s easy to change it up and make three substitutions at once to change it all around but I know what characters I’ve got and I know they would pull together.
“It’s a great win. Monday was an important win but it meant nothing if we didn’t follow it up.
“We’ve been all right away from home. We beat Maidenhead, who are flying, we went to Chorley and should have won then we’ve come here which is a difficult place and got the result.
“I’m delighted with the attitude of the lads and their willingness to learn and improve.
“We’ve obviously gone to a back five now and it looks a lot better for us and we seem a lot more solid.”