POOLS SAY IT’S NOT OVER YET
HARTLEPOOL must defeat title-chasing Doncaster on the final day of the season to give themselves a chance of avoiding the drop after a narrow defeat at Cheltenham.
Danny Wright’s first half header secured the points for the Robins, who are now mathematically safe from relegation.
But Pools’ new interim manager Matthew Bates said his side’s performance at Whaddon Road has given him genuine belief they can pull off the great escape, with rivals Newport County at home to Notts County.
“I am more confident we can get a result against Doncaster Rovers now,” Bates said.
“We got punished for one lapse of concentration and we could have caved, but the lads responded well and went back to the basics we’ve been working on all week.
“We are disappointed we didn’t get a result. If you look at the game, a lot of the ball was in the air, which was inevitable with the state of the pitch.
“We have had a good week and they’ve done everything we have asked of them. On another day we come away with at least a point, with the goalkeeper man of the match, which says a lot.”
Cheltenham’s acting boss Russell Milton admitted it was a huge relief to get the job done at home, with a final-day trip to Portsmouth for last year’s National League champions.
“It has been a hard two months for various reasons, but we all stuck together and got the job done in the end,” said Milton, who has stepped up in the absence of Gary Johnson after heart surgery.
“It was a good all-round performance and we knew we’d have to defend, play the percentages and we scored a good goal.
“They needed a win and made it hard for us and did well, so credit to our lads for a heroic effort.
“We knew the first goal would be so important and if you get ahead on this pitch it’s hard to peg it back.
“As the game went on we had to adapt and make changes accordingly.
“Scott Brown was terrific in goal and I’ve mentioned him many times. When you need some match-winning saves he pulled a few out in the second half. It was a heroic effort.”
The only goal came in the 17th minute when Harry Pell’s cross was nodded past ex-Cheltenham goalkeeper Trevor Carson by Wright for his 11th goal of the campaign.
Brown turned over a header from Lewis Hawkins over the bar and then blocked well from Padraig Amond after a poor backpass from Carl Winchester.
Liam Davis made a last-ditch clearance at the far post to keep out Lewis Alessandra’s effort in the 57th minute and Brown made another good stop to deny substitute Connor Simpson as Cheltenham held on.
CLOSE CALL: Padraig Amond's attempt is saved by Cheltenham goalkeeper Scott Brown DELIGHT: Cheltenham celebrate at the final whistle