Whisper it but Pools are just about safe
CRAIG HIGNETT won’t admit it’s over just yet, but Hartlepool United can now be classed as safe in League Two.
A gritty win over AFC Wimbledon at Victoria Park made it five games without defeat for Pools as they put 11 points between themselves and second-bottom York City.
The transformation in fortunes under Hignett has been remarkable and the boss is aiming even higher.
He said:“There’s nothing below us I worry about.We have games in hand, we’re two points behind Newport (in 17th) and I want to get as high as we can.’’
Pools won this one with a welltaken header from centre-half Adam Jackson.
Luke James’ shot spun up towards the defender inside the penalty area. With Kelle Roos guarding one side of his goal, Middlesbrough loanee Jackson expertly placed his header into the unguarded side of the net.
As far as chances on target went, this was a rare event, but James did hit the frame of the goal with a low shot after being teed up by Billy Paynter.
The Dons, with one win in seven games now, had plenty of the ball but lacked a cutting edge and Pools goalkeeper Trevor Carson – an unused substitute for Northern Ireland in their draw with Wales – was never stretched.
Wimbledon lumped the ball forward into the Pools penalty area at every opportunity, but Matthew Bates and Jackson were outstanding.
Pools defended in numbers and held up well against opposition lacking imagination.
Hignett said:“Defensively, we were outstanding under massive pressure.
“We knew what they were trying to do and we dealt with it well.
“We probably ground it out. Batesy and Jacko were immense, but I don’t want to single out players.
“We want to be better on the ball and dominate teams more, but we have to be pleased.
“You can see the spirit and how pleased they are together. The players set the standards. We won’t play worse than we have in the last five games and we are unbeaten.’’ Opposition boss Neal Ardley said:“It’s disappointing. Nobody likes losing. The boys gave everything, but Hartlepool are a much-improved team in good form.
“But we’ve just switched off from a second-phase set-piece and it’s cost us a chance to go home with anything.
“I didn’t think it was a free-kick in the first place and I was disappointed with all of the officials all game.
“But there are no sour grapes. Hartlepool defended resiliently, put their bodies on the line and stood firm. In the end, they’ve taken the points.”
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