MATCH REPORT - Hartlepool United 2 Charlton Athletic 1

Ryan Donaldson takes on two Charlton defenders
Ryan Donaldson takes on two Charlton defenders

HARTLEPOOL United eased their relegation fears with a valiant 2-1 victory over promotion-chasing Charlton Athletic.

The boys from The Vic moved nine points clear of the drop zone as they scored twice in a match for the first time since New Year’s Day.

Mick Wadsworth made three changes to the side which was beaten 4-1 at Brighton on Saturday with Newcastle United teenager Ryan Donaldson and James Brown paired in attack.

And it was from Donaldson’s aggressive forward foray that Pools won the free-kick which led to the opening goal on 14 minutes.

Evan Horwood clipped delicately over the defensive wall and, when his effort rebounded unfortunately off the crossbar, Andy Monkhouse was on hand to bundle home the loose ball.

Addicks top scorer Johnnie Jackson then got a sight at goal at the other end but blazed over the bar from 12 yards after Bradley Wright-Phillips had fizzed a crisp pass into his feet.

Pools, with the wind at their tails, were playing the better of the football and Antony Sweeney could have been clean in on goal had Paul Murray’s lofted throughball not caught the breeze.

Donaldson was showing the sort of promise which you’d expect from an England youth international and his efforts should have been rewarded with a goal on 41 minutes.

Sweeney stung the palms of Rob Elliott with a rasping drive from range and, when the rebounded was brought under control by Donaldson, the loanee was unfortunate to stab just inches wide.

Charlton were back out early for the second half and started like a side who had been given a half-time dressing down, Wright-Phillips drawing a fine, flying save from Scott Flinders with a skidding strike from 25 yards.

But the South Londoners did draw level on 54 minutes, albeit in fortuitous fashion.

Pawel Abbot found Nathan Ecclestone with a forward dink inside the area but it looked as though the midfielder had mis-controlled.

The heavy touch, though, took him away from marker Steve Haslam and the on-loan Liverpool winger slotted into the bottom corner from 10 yards out.

Pools went in search of a response and Donaldson was unlucky when a first-time slide, from Horwood’s centre, shaved the base of the post.

But the lead was restored on 62 minutes, Horwood sweeping a corner to the far post where Gary Liddle had peeled from his minder to steer a header back across goal and beyond Elliot.

Again, though, Charlton came back at the hosts and Wadsworth’s men were lucky to survive in the 80th minute when Peter Hartley’s deflected Kyel Reid’s cross up onto his own crossbar before Flinders kept out Abbott’s smash from the rebound.

Pools: Flinders, Haslam, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Sweeney (McSweeney 88), Murray, Liddle, Monkhouse, Donaldson (Humphreys 80), Brown.(Larkin 70)

Subs n/u: Rafferty, Gamble, Yantorno, Boyd.

Charlton Athletic: Elliot, Francis (Jenkinson 52), Jackson, Semedo, Abbott, Wright-Phillips, Doherty, McCormack (Reid 67), Fry, Dailly, Eccleston.

Subs n/u: Llera, Wagstaff, Solly, Fortune, Worner