Paynter’s penalty sets Pools on course
HARTLEPOOL United opened up some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone with a solid win over Dagenham.
The Daggers, three games without defeat before this one, are now nine points behind Pools, who occupy the spot directly above the drop zone.
Pools fortunes continue to improve under new boss Craig Hignett – he has led the side to backto-back wins for the first time since August.
York, also in the drop zone, are seven points behind Pools, who have three games in hand. But, despite the cushion, Hignett won’t be getting carried away.
He said:“We deserved that, a great start, two up and comfortable, but credit to them for coming back. They pressed us back a bit, we got tetchy a bit, but you could see we were quite comfortable.
“We win 3-1, you can over analyse it and I want to play well and win, I’m a perfectionist.
“I don’t see it as bottom against us, no pressure from me, but I imagine the players felt it given the game.
“I expected a bit of nerves, but after they scored we changed the formation a bit and Jake Gray scored. They had a couple of chances, but apart from that we were worthy.”
Pools were one up on four minutes, left-back Joe Widdowson needlessly shoved Luke James over and Billy Paynter netted from the spot, for his 12th of the season.
The second came when a Nathan Thomas freekick from the right was touched in by defender Jake Carroll.
Pools were in command and dominant, with Thomas a constant threat.
Daggers pulled a goal back from nothing when Matthew Cash’s longrange shot caught out keeper Trevor Carson and bounced up into the net.
Then Ashley Hemmings, skirted around Carson and his angled finish was cleared off the line by Carroll.
Pools finished the game on 54 minutes. Midfielder Gray broke from deep and rolled an angled finish across O’Brien into the net.
From then, Carson stood up to keep out a Hemmings effort after he was played in one on one.
Daggers boss John Still said:“We started slowly but then were the dominant team in the first half. I thought that was the case in the second, too, until they scored.
“We had an unbelievable chance at 2-1 and then they went down the other end and scored. That’s the nature of the game. I was delighted with the response, and we were in the ascendancy until their third.
“If I look over the last few games, and I’ve been really pleased with what we’ve done, we haven’t been clinical enough.”
STAR MAN NICKY FEATHE
RSTON Hartlep E