Maidenhead United 3-1 Hartlepool United: Magpies soar as two second half goals sink Pools in Berkshire

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Second half goals from Sam Beckwith and substitute Shawn McCoulsky condemned Hartlepool United to a first defeat in four despite a well struck half-volley from Callum Cooke.

Pools struggled to get to grips with a Maidenhead side who needed to win to make sure of their National League status, with the Magpies taking the lead through Casey Pettit after a quarter-of-an-hour.

Pools struck back against the run of play when Callum Cooke lashed a half-volley beyond Craig Ross but Sam Beckwith’s deflected strike and Sam McCoulsky’s tap-in at the back post sank the visitors, who slipped to their first defeat since their humbling at Gateshead.

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Pools boss Kevin Phillips made one change, with Chay Cooper replacing Terrell Agyemang on the left flank, while academy duo Campbell Darcy and Alfie Steel were named on the bench for the second game running.

David Ferguson had his hands full with Maidenhead's Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.David Ferguson had his hands full with Maidenhead's Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.
David Ferguson had his hands full with Maidenhead's Jayden Mitchell-Lawson.

Maidenhead, meanwhile, had taken seven points from their last nine and were on the cusp of securing their National League status for another season.

Alan Devonshire’s side, who set up in a 3-4-3 formation, posed plenty of threat from a front three that included Reece Smith, the Magpies leading scorer this season with 11 goals, and Tristan Abrahams, who signed from Welling in February.

Pools struggled to deal with the home side’s direct approach in the opening exchanges and, after surviving a couple of near misses, Maidenhead took the lead through Casey Pettit in the 14th minute.

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Experienced attacker Sam Barratt was causing a lot of problems with his set-pieces and long throws and, just a few minutes after a free-kick deflected just over Pete Jameson’s bar following a slight misjudgement from David Ferguson, his corner was headed down and turned in by Pettit from six yards.

Pools were struggling to get into the game, with towering defender Kevin Lokko making life difficult for Mani Dieseruvwe, and the home side went close to doubling their lead when the influential Barratt forced a sharp save from Jameson at his near post following a mix-up between Tom Parkes and Louis Stephenson.

Dieseruvwe had pretty much the only effort of note for the visitors just after the half four work when he turned a header goalwards following a Chay Cooper cross from the left, but his looping effort was comfortable for veteran goalkeeper Craig Ross.

The visitors survived a real scare as the first half headed towards its conclusion when Stephenson, who was enduring a rare difficult night, had his pocket picked by Barratt and the 28-year-old fired a low drive that skipped up off the turf and cannoned off the far post.

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Pools tried to get their foot on the ball and had a couple of set-pieces that come to nothing, with Tom Crawford trying his best to turn a deed David Ferguson free-kick across the face of goal as an underwhelming opening period from the visitors, who were looking a little disjointed, came to an end with Maidenhead leading 1-0.

Despite the second half starting in much the same vain as the first, Pools equalised five minutes after the restart through Callum Cooke.

The goal came following fantastic work from the forward-thinking Louis Stephenson, who beat two Maidenhead defenders with a flying run down the right and, after his threatening cross was headed straight to Callum Cooke, who blasted a superb half-volley beyond Craig Ross to make it 1-1.

Maidenhead didn’t seem too disheartened after conceding and continued to bombard the Pools box and almost immediately restored their lead when Kevin Lokko’s headed rebounded off teammate Tristan Abrahams on the goal line.

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Lokko made a decisive intervention at the other end just after the hour when a fluid Pools move, their best of the match, unlocked the Magpies defence and Joe Grey looked destined to score until the defender flung himself in front of his strike and it looped over the crossbar.

The second half was much more even but Maidenhead should have restored their lead with a quarter-of-an-hour remain when substitute Shawn McCoulsky went through on goal but his effort was straight at Jameson, who got a strong hand to his effort to turn it behind for a corner.

The hosts didn’t have to wait much longer before going ahead when Pools, who had looked shaky dealing with set-pieces all evening, only half cleared a corner and defender Sam Beckwith’s strike was deflected past Jameson to make it 2-1 to the hosts.

And Maidenhead made it three five minutes later when Mitchell-Lawson’s low ball to the back post was turned in from close range by McCoulsky to extend the home side’s advantage.

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It was a lacklustre end to the game, with Pools never really looking like getting back into the game, as Maidenhead made sure of survival while Kevin Phillips and his side headed back to the North East empty-headed.

Pools: Jameson, Ferguson, Parkes, Waterfall, Stephenson, Featherstone (capt), Crawford (sub, Steel), Cooke, Cooper (sub, Agyemang), Grey, Dieseruvwe.

Maidenhead: Ross (capt), Asare, Beckwith, De Havilland, Lokko, Mitchell-Lawson, Pettit, Smith, Clerima, Abrahams (sub, McCoulsky), Barratt.

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