Roy Kelly’s Analysis: Hartlepool step up to the mark in televised win over Orient

Kudus Oyenuga scores from the spot
Kudus Oyenuga scores from the spot

Win on the telly, we never win on the telly.

It could have been a chant tailor-made for Hartlepool United after just three wins in 17 attempts. Not any more.

Pools have had some right ‘mares’ on the box and this reporter will mention just two – Notts County and Blyth Spartans.

But yesterday, Pools stepped up to the mark in the Sky Sports 1-screened lunchtime confrontation as they put the brakes on the (Leyton) Orient express.

Admittedly, for the second match in a row, there was an element of luck at Victoria Park.

Kudus Oyenuga brought Pools level via a ludicrous penalty and the first of Jake Gray’s two goals came with the considerable assistance of a deflection.

Oddly enough from the fella who gifted Pools the equaliser.

But, while yesterday’s victory was just eight days after the 1-0 win over Cheltenham Town, in football terms it was light years away.

Had the FA Cup tie been something in the region of 6-3 to the Robins, Pools could not have quibbled.

While Trevor Carson made two or three excellent saves – again – and there was another master-class defensive performance by Matthew Bates, Pools played yesterday like they meant it.

The win was not undeserved and now the side have the chance to prove they have turned the corner.

This Saturday, they travel to Mansfield Town who, while sixth, are just six points above Pools, who despite yesterday’s win over seventh-placed Leyton Orient remain 19th.

There was much to admire from Pools.

Carson’s brilliance in goal is a good starting point, plus the way Bates marshalled a defence which restricted the O’s to just the one goal.

Carl Magnay, restored to the side after spending nine of the last 10 games banned, came back with a captain’s performance alongside a talented young fella, Gray, who applied the finishing touches when the opportunities arose.

There were two good debuts to acknowledge.

While Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron did not score, there was plenty of industry and mobility from the Frenchman who took the place of the Billy Paynter, who is out with Achilles trouble.

You suspect there is more to come from him.

So too Kal Naismith. The Scot only met up with Pools on Saturday morning but in his opening 90 minutes he looked composed with a capital C.

He used the ball intelligently, produced one of the best corner deliveries of the season and set up Gray’s second goal with a delicious pass.

The afternoon started with an impeccably-observed minute’s silence to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris terror outrage. Doubtless, it was a poignant moment for the two Frenchmen on the field, Mandron and Orient skipper Mathieu Baudry.

The central defender had the opening chance of the game when the ball dropped for him in the box following a sixth-minute corner, only for Carson to make a near-post save to concede another.

But after one scare, the Pools goal could not escape the second in the 13th minute. Lloyd James lifted the ball into Pools box with on-loan defender Adam Jackson unable to make a clean connection with his attempt to clear.

Midfielder Bradley Pritchard accepted the loose ball by beating Carson with a low and composed finish into the keeper’s left-hand corner.

However, Pools were on level terms inside seven minutes.

Oyenuga delivered a great cross from deep on the Mill House terrace flank which Dunne, for some reason, handled.

Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot and Oyenuga picked up the ball put it to Charlie Grainger’s left with the keeper diving the wrong way in front of his own fans at the Rink End.

After that though, Pools did not get much of a look in although Scott Fenwick, who showed plenty of industry of his own, was just unable to get on end of a cross from the right.

Orient had the best of the play and Carson was forced to beat out a powerful shot from John Marquis.

Leyton Orient were just as dangerous after the break and the Pools led a charmed life and twice the defence had to scramble clear while Carson saved magnificently from Baudry’s free header .

There was a Pools corner – won by Mandron – which ended with Bates heading over from Naismith’s excellent ball from the right. While it was off-target, it showed Pools, after being under a fair amount of pressure, may just have a chance.

In fact, they finally began to push the O’s behind the ball and a goal did come 20 minutes from time.

Mandron did well down the left before laying the ball off to Gray just outside the area. He had options but the only thought in his mind was to shoot and his low right-foot shot was deflected past Grainger by the hapless Dunne.

It was almost 3-1 shortly afterwards when Magnay crossed from right but Mandron’s header went wide and the 6ft 3in French ace could not quite get on the end of a Naismith cross.

But number three arrived five minutes from time and it was worth the admission money alone.

Naismith showed some silky footwork on the right before finding Gray with the pass off the outside of his right boot.

Gray let fly with his own right boot, the ball finding the keeper’s right-hand corner. What a way to finish a TV show.