Dagenham and Redbridge 0 Hartlepool United 2: Pool back on winning track

With two wins from four games, can Hartlepool United make a concerted second-half of the season push for the play-offs?

Action Images / John Rushworth  Hartlepool's Jack Barmby
Hartlepool's Jack Barmby

With two wins from four games, can Hartlepool United make a concerted second-half of the season push for the play-offs?

While 2013 ended positively, 2014 started woefully with back-to -back 3-0 home reverses.

Yet Colin Cooper has Pool back on track and there is no reason why his exciting young side cannot make a fist of it.

There is a nine-point gap between 11th-placed Pool and the top seven. They next face the teams in eighth – Newport – and seventh – Southend. A decent return from those and they can seriously think about it.

Cooper has built a team of youthful promise and real potential this season, but victory on this occasion was provided by a solid base at the back – with his oldest head to the fore. Sam Collins, 36 years old, has not played much this season and it is only down to the sale of Jack Baldwin to Peterborough he has been given a recall.

Yet in two games in a week Pool have kept successive clean sheets, with Collins’ organisational skills proving vital.

Collins said: “It is so good to be back playing. The gaffer has asked me to play and I will play as long as I can, that is all I want to do.

“If you are 17, 18 or 36, 37 you are always seeking match sharpness, but I have always kept myself fit and that has never been a problem for me.”

Collins helped keep an otherwise youthful back four in check.

The Daggers’ big threat, as witnessed during the game at Victoria Park earlier in the season, comes from the wingers, but Darren Holden and Jordan Richards deserve praise for keeping Zavon Hines and Medy Olito quiet.

Granted, Pool did have a bit of luck when home defender Luke Wilkinson hit the post, but the visitors had chances of their own before taking the lead.

Twice in the first-half, Luke James fired wide from the edge of the area when he knew he should have done better.

The first goal came when another young talent Luke Williams fired at goal from distance and a deflection took it into the net.

Number two came at the end, Jon Franks crossing for James to intelligently head down for Andy Monkhouse to apply the finishing touch.

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