Payn­ter’s penalty sets Pools on course

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Thomas Han­nah

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

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