Mani Dieseruvwe scores 20th league goal against his former club as Hartlepool United banish memories of Gateshead with 1-0 win over Halifax Town

Mani Dieseruvwe’s 71st minute spot-kick, his 20th National League goal of the season, helped Hartlepool United bounce back from their midweek humbling at Gateshead with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Halifax.
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Dieseruvwe blasted his penalty into the top corner after substitute Terrell Agyemang had been tripped just inside the box as Pools took a big step towards securing their National League status and banishing the memories of their mauling at Gateshead with determined success over an in-form Halifax.

Pools boss Kevin Phillips made three changes from his side’s 7-1 midweek humiliation at rivals Gateshead, their heaviest defeat in almost three decades.

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Following an ill-fated experiment with three at the back on Tuesday evening, Phillips reverted to a flat back four and handed teenage right-back Louis Stephenson a first start in over a month.

Mani Dieseruvwe scored his 20th goal of the season against his former club.Mani Dieseruvwe scored his 20th goal of the season against his former club.
Mani Dieseruvwe scored his 20th goal of the season against his former club.

Callum Cooke returned to midfield after being dropped to the bench for the trip to Gateshead while Courtney Duffus, who hadn’t started a game since January, was a surprise inclusion on the left flank.

Manny Onariase, Terrell Agyemang and Kwaku Oduroh dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Joel Dixon and Chay Cooper.

While Mani Dieseruvwe, who was looking to end a rare barren run after failing to score in his last five games, was lining up against his old side, there was also a former Poolie leading the visitors’ line as Rob Harker, who had three goals in his last two, returned to the Suit Direct Stadium following a fruitless loan spell back in 2020.

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The sides might have matched each other with 4-2-3-1 formations but the teams had been experiencing vastly different fortunes of late, with Pools winless in their last five and still reeling from shipping six second half goals at Gateshead, while Halifax had won seven of their last eight and put four past champions Chesterfield nine days ago.

It was a largely subdued opening 10 minutes – which, given the ill-feeling among certain sections of supporters still coming to terms with Tuesday night’s seven-goal drubbing, was not the worst thing that could have happened – although David Ferguson had to be at full stretch to stop winger Max Wright after an incisive through ball threatened to catch Pools out.

Attacking-midfielder Florent Hoti, who is a former Kosovan under-21 international, was finding space in dangerous areas and should have done better when he overhit a pass in a promising position after beating Tom Crawford in the tackle, while up the other end Joe Grey was looking lively as ever but the home side were not posing much of a threat.

Pools began to grow into the game and fashioned the first real chance for either side 21 minutes in.

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It all came from persistent play from Joe Grey, who recovered from a slip to find Callum Cooke on the edge of the opposition box. The attacking-midfielder was too strong for Halifax’s Kane Thompson-Sommers and poked the ball into the path of Dieseruvwe, whose first time effort from no more than 10 yards was well-saved by visiting goalkeeper Sam Johnson.

Courtney Duffus was failing too much too much of an impression on a rare start, albeit in an unfamiliar position, but had his first sight of goal 37 minutes in when the marauding David Ferguson picked him out with a cut-back from the left touchline only for the Barrow loanee’s sweeping strike to be blocked before it had a chance to threaten.

Meanwhile, Halifax were still to really test Pete Jameson in the Pools goal and the 30-year-old didn’t have a save to make until Rob Harker’s speculative strike from distance was fired straight at him a minute after Duffus had been denied.

The home side survived a couple of minor scares before the break, with Max Wright’s half volley proving comfortable for Jameson before the Pools goalkeeper misjudged a deep cross that came to nothing.

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And, although it was far from pulsating, Pools headed for the tunnel following a decent opening period during which they’d managed to largely stifle any threat from the visitors while creating a couple of chances, the best of which fell to Dieseruvwe, themselves.

The home side started the second half with much more attacking intensity and, just a minute or so since his touch had let him down in a promising position, Dieseruvwe went close when his deflected effort was headed off the line by Halifax full-back Tylor Golden following more good work from Cooke.

Pools were beginning to build up some momentum but as the home side started to send more bodies forward they looked slightly susceptible on the break and almost came unstuck when Aaron Cosgrave stole in on goal, but a heavy touch allowed Jameson to smother the ball at the feet of the Wimbledon man in the 58th minute.

The contest was slowly starting to open up and, while Pools were looking more like breaking the deadlock, the Shaymen’s plan appeared to be to catch them out on the counter, particularly after lively winger Andrew Oluwabori was introduced from the bench.

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After Luke Waterfall had threatened from a couple of attacking set-pieces, Pools had some defending to do as a nice move from the visitors opened them up and provided substitute Luke Summerfield with a presentable opportunity from the edge of the box, but his tame curling effort was gratefully collected by Jameson.

Pools were rewarded for a largely positive and spirited display with the opening goal after 71 minutes.

Terrell Agyemang, who had been introduced in place of Courtney Duffus, drove inside and managed to get just inside the box when he was tripped, leaving referee Jamie O’Connor little choice but to point to the penalty spot.

Mani Dieseruvwe stepped up and, after his trademark stutter, sent the ball into the top corner to score his 20th National League goal of the season and give Pools the lead against his former employers.

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Halifax began to send more men forward and felt they should have had a penalty of their own when the recently introduced Adan George thought he was pulled back in the area but the referee waved away the appeals, leaving Pools with just 10 minutes of normal time to hang on.

And hang on they did. Halifax pressed and probed but were unable to fashion a clear-cut opportunity as the home side secured a vitally-important victory that probably leaves them no more than one win away from guaranteeing their status as a National League club for another season.

Pools: Jameson, Ferguson, Parkes, Waterfall, Stephenson, Featherstone (capt), Crawford, Cooke (sub, Cooper, 89), Grey, Dieseruvwe, Duffus (sub, Agyemang, 61).

Halifax: Johnson (capt), Golden, Senior, Stott, Hunter, Harker, Thompson-Sommers (sub, Summerfield, 52), Wright, Hoti (sub, George, 80), Cosgrave (sub, Oluwabori, 59).

Attendance: 4,444; 474 away

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