MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United Notts County

ON THE ATTACK: Charlie Wyke
ON THE ATTACK: Charlie Wyke

HARTLEPOOL United made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 17 months with a gutsy 2-1 triumph over Notts County.

The victory also broke a run of seven straight defeats at Victoria Park and moved Pools to within eight points of safety.

Skipper Peter Hartley was the match-winner when he headed home in the 69th minute, this after Jamal Campbell-Ryce had cancelled out James Poole’s fifth-minute opener.

But it was Simon Walton who was the toast of the home crowd, confirmation of his man-of-the-match award bringing the biggest cheer of the afternoon for a player who was jeered just last month.

He was instrumental in the early breakthrough, winning possession deep in his own half before springing Charlie Wyke clear on halfway.

He fed Jon Franks and he lobbed into the area from the right where Poole, having cushioned the delivery with his first touch, duly volleyed home with his second touch.

It was Poole’s second in as many matches having netted during the 3-1 win at Portsmouth seven days ago.

It wasn’t until the 13th minute that County threatened but Joss Labadie’s effort from all of 30 yards was never going to trouble Scott Flinders and he watched it zip wide.

Pools were very much in the ascendancy and Wyke could have doubled the advantage when gambling on a Franks cross towards the near post but his cute nick was turned behind by Fabian Spiess.

Poole was clearly in the mood and, after robbing Jeff Hughes and swapping passes with Wyke, he fired narrowly wide of Speiss’s goal with the keeper scrambling.

There was a scary 60-second spell for the home support when Pools were forced into two goal-line clearances.

First it was Peter Hartley who blocked with his thighs after Campbell-Ryce had smashed on target and then, from a corner-kick, Yoann Arquin saw his glancing header hacked clear by a well-positioned Neil Austin.

It was Pools who started the second period the brighter of the sides and Spiess ended up wrapped around his upright when scooping wide after Franks had levelled on target from a narrow angle.

But by the 52nd minute the visitors were level, Campbell-Ryce weaving between three home shirts inside the area before burying low into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Wyke sought to restore the home lead but, after swivelling 20 yards out, he drilled wide of goal.

But they did regain their advantage on 69 minutes when Hartley rose amid a crowed of bodies to force home a header from Evan Horwood’s clipped free-kick.

It was end-to-end stuff and Arquin thought he had levelled for the visitors when turning Gary Liddle’s centre towards goal but Flinders, having been wrong-footed, recovered to pounce on the loose ball.

And Pools held on to claim a first home win since September 1.