Roy Kelly’s match analysis: Fleetwood 0 Hartlepool 1

Billy Paynter scores Pools' winner
Billy Paynter scores Pools' winner

Two games, two headers, two goals.

Billy Paynter is already looking like an inspired signing by Ronnie Moore.

Early days it may be, but Billy Paynter is already looking like an inspired signing by Ronnie Moore.

Alas, Moore was not at Highbury last night to see his fellow Scouser bag his second goal in four days to head Hartlepool United into the second round draw in the Capital One Cup.

Ronnie, like any good dad, had flown out to Spain, to be with daughter, Charlotte, who took ill on holiday, so he missed the upset at Fleetwood Town.

The news of the 1-0 victory will doubtless have put a smile on the face of the Pools saviour at a difficult time.

So too will the impact of Paynter.

He inspired Pools to a 2-0 success over Morecambe in the League Two opener on Saturday, heading in the first and setting up the clincher for Rakish Bingham.

Last night, he led the line to great effect and set up a great opening for Bingham which, unfortunately, this time his fellow forward could not take.

But Paynter showed his predatory instincts in the 57th minute.

Bingham, who troubled the Fleetwood defence all evening with his pace and skill, had been fouled some 30 yards out by full-back Danny Andrew.

Birthday boy Jake Carroll swung over a perfect free-kick from which Paynter had escaped his marker to nod in from six yards.

Paynter clearly has the knack and the experienced frontman and captain could well be the pivotal man for Pools who have kicked on from their 2015 survival fight.

However, this is not a one-man-band.

Moore and assistant Sam Collins, who took charge in Lancashire last night, have been brave to start the season with 4-3-3 formations against red rose opposition.

The players have adapted superbly to the switch from 3-5-2, which looked like being the preference for the season though, of course, it could still be.

Scott Harrison and Harry Worley have come together as a good central unit with Carroll and Michael Duckworth outside them as full-backs.

The back four earned their pay last night, as did the man just in front, centre-half turned central defender Carl Magnay.

Defensively he was solid while he also picked out a couple of good passes, while his midfield comrades Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods played superbly, going forward and in their own territory.

Up front, Paynter has formed a good understanding with Bingham and Scott Fenwick and all three should have been on the scoresheet.

One goal proved enough though.

That was down though to one player not mentioned thus far - Adam Bartlett.

The keeper, who was expecting to be playing second fiddle to fellow summer signing, Trevor Carson, was unbeatable at Highbury.

He was brave and alert when he needed to come out but it was his shot-stopping which stood out, pulling off three outstanding saves in the final 15 minutes.

The 29-year-old had confidence in his angles, letting several shots whizz by.

One such effort was the opening attempt of the tie as Andrew went wide of Bartlett’s left-hand post from a 30-yard free-kick.

Fleetwood had several nearly moments, skipper Antoni Sarcevic firing a low ball across the six-yard box from the right only to find no-one here to put it in.

Striker Jamie Proctor should have done better with a free header, but those incidents aside, there was no other serious direct threat in the first half.

At the other end, Woods had a 26th-minute shot blocked by Stephen Jordan while keeper Chris Maxwell made a fine near-post save from Featherstone.

Carroll sent a fierce 23-yard free-kick just over Maxwell’s bar and Bingham spurned a gilt-edged 29th-minute chance by side-footing wide from inside the Fleetwood box after being expertly set up by Paynter.

After the break, Pools continued to have opportunities.

There was excitement for the 278 fans behind the goal in the 54th minute when Maxwell tipped over acrobatically after Fenwick turned Eggert Jonsson superbly and shot high towards goal.

Worley could not get a clean connection to his header from Carroll’s corner but Paynter would make no mistake from the Irishman’s next set-piece delivery to put Pools in front.

Fenwick should have doubled the lead when he had a one-on-one with Maxwell on the hour but the keeper saved the striker’s right-foot shot.

Graham Alexander made a double-change midway through the second half for Fleetwood, sending on striker David Ball and attacking midfielder Bobby Grant.

Both men would go close to saving the League One side but Bartlett proved a barrier they could not break down.

The Geordie made a sensational double save from Ball in the 76th minute.

Ball looked favourite to score from the first attempt which Bartlett clawed away and seemed certain to net seconds later when the ball came back into the six-yard box, only to save again.

There were two late scares as Bartlett palmed over a last-minute Grant free-kick while the Fleetwood sub saw another dead-ball attempt hit the bar from an almost identical position in the first minute of stoppage time though the keeper may well have had it covered.

Pools had other glorious chances with Woods firing over after being set up by Bingham who then went wide from 40-odd yards after Maxwell had left his net unguarded to try to score at an injury-time corner.

It did not matter. Pools were through thanks to Billy the kid and a marvellous team effort.