Hartlepool Utd 2 Leyton Orient 1: Luke’s all smiles as Pools grab dramatic win

Hartlepool's Jonathan Franks sends over a cross against Leyton Orient. Picture by Frank Reid
Hartlepool's Jonathan Franks sends over a cross against Leyton Orient. Picture by Frank Reid

HARTLEPOOL United snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as Luke James struck deep into injury-time.

Pools were trailing to Martin Rowlands’ early penalty with just two minutes left on the clock when skipper Peter Hartley levelled.

But John Hughes’ men weren’t done there and teenage substitute James fired in the third minute of added time to move Pools to within eight points of safety.

They had, in truth, toiled for the large part and until their late rally had offered precious little in the final third.

The concession of the seventh-minute spot-kick was harsh, Neil Austin sliding to block a Lee Cook cross and, with the ball nestling into his midriff, referee Scott Duncan pointed to the spot.

Rowlands stepped up and made no mistake.

Pools rallied momentarily and Jon Franks drew tamely wide from 12 yards after making inroads into the penalty area.

At the other end David Mooney flashed a header over the crossbar having flung his frame to meet Cook’s centre at the near post.

Scott Flinders was forced into his first save of the afternoon just before the half-hour mark when Shaun Batt headed for the top corner from a Gary Sawyer delivery, the home netminder scrambling to shovel over the crossbar.

Pools were struggling to threaten their visitors and a Franks volley, easily grasped by Jamie Jones, was their only effort on target before the whistle sounded for the break.

James Poole did draw a save from Jones shortly after the restart but his bicycle-kick was handled with ease by the visiting custodian.

Hughes acted on the hour mark with Steve Howard and Andy Monkhouse replacing Poole and Simon Walton.

And the two arrivals immediately combined to test Jones, Monkhouse smashing down the throat of the stopper after Howard had climbed to nod down on the edge of the area.

Pools were lacking in quality in their pursuit of parity and that was evident when Franks hooked weakly into the side-netting when presented with a sight at goal on 65 minutes.

Evan Horwood inadvertently came close to locating that equaliser when his free-kick, intended as a cross, drifted towards the top corner, Jones hurriedly retracting his steps to claw over the crossbar.

But it was Horwood who turned provider for Hartley when his corner was headed home from six yards on 88 minutes.

Still they pressed for a winner and James duly found it when hammering into the bottom corner after Howard had cushioned a Horwood cross into his path.