Hartlepool United 3 Notts County 2

Last season it took Hartlepool United until January 26 to beat three League One teams. Now, operating a division below, they have already matched that tally

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Last season it took Hartlepool United until January 26 to beat three League One teams. Now, operating a division below, they have already matched that tally.

In three knockout games this season, Pool have beat Bradford, Sheffield United and now, in the FA Cup, Notts County. Next they face Coventry City in round two.

The turnaround in fortunes under Colin Cooper has been impressive. The former Middlesbrough coach has his side playing neat, attractive football with a strong work ethic in everything they do.

Seven wins from eight games shows just how well they are playing right now and they deserved this victory.

After being named the League Two player of the month for October, Luke James scored twice to make it nine for the season.

Little wonder, as Cooper admitted, the list of scouts watching is growing by the week.

His two goals this week were poached like a true striker, snaffling up the ball in the area after it fell in his direction.

Cooper said: “Luke scored two good goals and it’s no coincidence the scout list which lands on my desk on a matchday is growing and rightly so.

“Not just for Luke, but others as well. We are a young squad, young team, bar one or two.

“The pleasing thing is you see something you have touched on during the week.

“I got a cheeky little grin when he scored the tap-in first.

“Good centre-forwards will hope the goalkeeper spills it, hope the goalkeeper drops a clanger, hope there’s a flick on.

“He’s a learner and wants to get better.”

Pool took the lead against Notts, newly-managed by Shaun Derry, assisted by ex-Carlisle chief Greg Abbott, when Jack Baldwin met Simon Walton’s free-kick and headed in firmly.

That lasted just a minute as Dean Leacock got in the way of Matty Dolan’s clearance and the ball bounced into the net off him.

Then James took the game away from Notts. First he reacted to slot in a rebound from Michael Duckworth’s shot and then turned in from close range after Jon Franks strike fell into his path.

Notts got one back late on through substitute Ronan Murray, but Pool were never in danger.

 

HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Duckworth, Collins, Baldwin, Austin; Dolan, Walton; Franks (Richards 86), Poole (Sweeney 86), Monkhouse; James. Subs (not used): Rafferty (gk), Compton, Holden, Rodney, Walker.

Booked: Monkhouse (44)

Goals: Baldwin (16), James (43, 75)

NOTTS COUNTY: Bialkowski; Thompson (Murray 76), Liddle, Leacock, Sheehan; McGregor, Labadie (Boucaud 61), Fotherington, Grealish (Showumni 61); Arquin, Campbell-Ryce. Subs (not used): Smith, Haworth, Murray, Speiss, Tempest. Booked: Labadie (44, unsporting behaviour), Leacock (81, dissent) Goal: Leacock (17).

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