The Non-League Football Paper - - VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE - By Steve Har­ris

DE­LIGHTED Craig Har­ri­son hailed his Hartle­pool’s side steely re­solve as they fended off re­vi­talised Torquay to ex­tend their seven-game un­beaten run.

Sec­ond-half ef­forts from Rhys Oates and Jonathan Franks sealed all three points for Pools, who are now one point off the play-offs.

It was Gary Owers’ muchim­proved Torquay though who en­joyed the bet­ter of the first 45 min­utes, al­though cru­cially without scor­ing, leav­ing Har­ri­son to heap praise on his side’s de­fen­sive qual­i­ties.

“The first half an hour was a bit tricky to say the least,” he said. “They came out of the blocks with a lot of de­sire and put us un­der pres­sure af­ter a very pos­i­tive re­sult away against Ebb­s­fleet in mid­week so ob­vi­ously their con­fi­dence is high.

“We got in at half time and made a cou­ple of lit­tle changes and the lads were fantastic in the sec­ond half.”

The Gulls dom­i­nated the open­ing pe­riod of the first ever Non-League meet­ing be­tween the sides as the re­called Ruairi Keat­ing went close twice in the open­ing 13 min- utes. Ar­guably Torquay’s best chance fell to Josh McQuoid on 15 min­utes when a burst­ing run and 20-yard strike forced a stun­ning save from Hartle­pool keeper Scott Loach. Eight min­utes later, Pools carved out their first chance when left-back Blair Adams went on a mazy run be­fore fir­ing a right footed shot straight at Torquay keeper Vin­cent Dorel. How­ever, the Gulls were made to pay for their missed chances as Hartle­pool took the lead on 55 min­utes – Oates nod­ding home a cross from Adams. Then, on 68 min­utes, Pools dou­bled their lead when Franks found the target with a long-range strike that ap­peared to take a de­flec­tion off Michael Woods. That ef­fec­tively ended the match as a con­test, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of Owers, de­spite a de­cent dis­play. “It’s very easy to be neg­a­tive and re­act to the re­sult, but I thought in the first half we played re­ally well,” the new Gulls boss said. “We cre­ated enough chances to win the game and that’s a fault of ours, or a weak­ness of ours, that we couldn’t take those chances.”

PIC­TURE: Pin­na­cle

IT’S OATES SO SIMPLE: Rhys Oates wheels away af­ter putting Hartle­pool United in front at Plain­moor

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