Hartlepool United 3 AFC Wimbledon 1

Hartlepool United made it five successive victories last night, AFC Wimbledon the latest team to be brushed aside

Luke James
Luke James

Hartlepool United made it five successive victories last night, AFC Wimbledon the latest team to be brushed aside.

Pool, with 12 points from 12 in League Two and a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win to their name of late, were good value for victory.

After a stuttering start to the season, when results weren’t forthcoming for Colin Cooper and his side, they have certainly proved themselves of late.

Victoria Park hasn’t been a happy place for Pool in recent years, but once again everyone went home happy last night.

Cooper has his side well organised at the back and, with plenty of pace and power going forward, they are causing problems galore.

This was the first time they have won five in a row since 2010.

But if Cooper expected – or hoped – for his side to start on the front foot, full of confidence on the back of recent displays, he was left disappointed.

It was 10 minutes before any sort of opening. Matty Dolan sent in a curling free-kick from the left side, but Luke James was beaten to the dangerous ball.

The Dons were firm and organised, trying to play on the break and were almost in with a good chance.

Only some alert defending from Jack Baldwin cut out the ball in the penalty area from finding Michael Smith, the visitors’ Wallsend-born striker.

Dolan’s dead-balls were Pools’ most likely opening, but they needed more than just that if they were to progress.

It was some 25 minutes before they grasped the game and started to knock the ball about with any purpose and the spell of possession they enjoyed at that point set them up.

Dolan, impressive again in midfield, unleashed a shot at goal from 25 yards that had keeper Ross Worner diving to his left to keep it out.

And two minutes later they were ahead.

James Poole had the ball at hisfeet in the area and wasneedlessly tripped by defender Alan Bennett.

In the absence of the suspended Jack Compton, Simon Walton took the responsibility from the spot and made no mistake.

The lead, however, wasn’t that safe and within minutes Scott Flinders was called into action.

Pool’s goalkeeper was outstanding in victory over Plymouth at the weekend and this time he kept out a firm Smith effort, with Baldwin dealing with the follow up.

As half-time beckoned, the visitors had a second chance to level. Bennett lost his marker and sent a free header over the bar from eight yards.

It was a tame start to the second half, and Pool had their first opening on 56 minutes.

A deflected clearance fell for Poole and, after his low ball into the area was cleared, Jon Franks tried his luck from the follow-up and volleyed over.

Pool were dragged level on 62 minutes – another goal from the spot. This time Baldwin was the guilty party, knocking George Porter over in the area and Harry Pell fired in, sending Flinders the wrong way.

They were soon back in front, with a lovely looping header from James.

Walton’s diagonal ball into the area was met by the striker, he got in front of his man and the ball sailed high into the net. It was somefinish for his seventh goal of the season.

And if James’ goal was good, the third by Matty Dolan was even better on the eye. Picking up possession 25 yard out, his low shot screamed towards keeper Worner, who got a touch, but nowhere near enough to keep it out.

HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Duckworth, Burgess, Baldwin, Austin; Walton, Dolan; Franks (Richards 80), Poole (Sweeney 87), Monkhouse; James. Subs: Rafferty (gk), Collins, Holden, Rodney, Walker.

Goals: Walton pen 32, James 66, Walton 83

Booked: Monkhouse, Walton

AFC WIMBLEDON: Worner; Fuller, Bennett, Weston, Fenlon; S Moore; Porter, Sweeney, Pell, L Moore (Sainte-Luce 63); Smith. Subs: Brown, Kennedy, Antwi, Francomb, Midson, Strutton.

Goal: Pell 55 pen

Booked: Sweeney

Referee: David Bond (Burscough) Attendance: 3,652.

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