THE last time Hartlepool United met Bury it was pure misery. The most inept and flat performances saw Pool lose at Gigg Lane, go bottom of the table and manager Neale Cooper quit.
This time around and it could have been just as morose – defeat for Pool and they could have been relegated.
Instead, they won their first game in eight and live to fight another League One day.
By all intents and purposes these sides will be in the bottom division next season.
Victory for Pool – thanks to two Andy Monkhouse goals, Pool’s first in 762 minutes of football – saw them jump over the Shakers at the bottom end of the table.
Relegation could come for both teams this weekend, and it could come a big step closer tomorrow night when Oldham play one of their three games in hand on John Hughes’ side.
The victory for Pool brought welcome respite for Hughes following a desperate sequence of results.
Hughes has been threatening for weeks to field a more attack-minded side and he did it this time, Luke James paired up front alongside Charlie Wyke.
James, who hails from Amble, caused plenty of difficulties for the visiting defenders.
His natural willingness to chase and close down offers a real nuisance value.
Monkhouse admitted: “There was relief with the goal, from the outset playing Luke and Charlie up front it was a different dynamic to the game.
“Luke’s endeavour and attitude is spot on – the lads see it and feed off it and he was a major part in us winning the game.
“He has been banging on the door for a while, again it’s the manager’s choice, but him coming in gave us a belief he could change it. “
Monkhouse turned in a close-range header just before half-time to end the scoring blank.
It was the left winger who scored their last goal as well, in the last minute of their win over Crewe at the end of February.
He admitted: “There are three games left, we will give it our best and if it’s good enough great.
“If not and we have left it too late then we only have ourselves to blame really.”
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Holden; Franks, Walton, Baldwin, Monkhouse; Wyke (Humphreys 46), James (Boagey 90). Subs (not used): McHugh (gk), Luscombe, Rowbotham, Hawkins.
Goal: Monkhouse 42, 72.
BURY: Belford; Worrall, Sodje, Eastham, Ebanks-Landell; Fagan, Thompson (Mezague 77), Carrington, Soares (Regan 78); Bishop, Ajose (Clarke-Harris 55). Subs (not used): Carson (gk), Regan.
Booked: Carrington, Sodje. Sent off: Fagan.
Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincoln).