Hartlepool beat Cambridge 2-1 to move out of the relegation zone for the first time since October

Scott Harrison celebrates the winning goal.
Scott Harrison celebrates the winning goal.
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HARTLEPOOL United have moved out of the relegation zone for the first time since October after a tense and dramatic 2-1 win over Cambridge United.

The biggest crowd of the season crammed into Victoria Park to see Brad Walker give Pools the lead in the 20th minute.

Brad Walker in action during Hartlepool United's 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town. Picture by FRANK REID.

Brad Walker in action during Hartlepool United's 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town. Picture by FRANK REID.

Matt Harrold equalised just past the half hour mark before Scott Harrison popped up with his first ever goal to secure the win.

It caps a remarkable turnaround in recent weeks, with Ronnie Moore’s team securing their fourth win on the spin to go a point clear of the drop-zone.

Moore kept faith with the same 3-5-2 formation, making just one change with on-loan Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill handed his debut.

He replaced Ryan Bird, who was recalled by Richard Money before the loan deadline but Bird did not travel with the squad to The Vic.

The wind was blowing a gale as Pools decided to shoot towards the Town End in the first half.

New signing Hugill was making a nuisance of himself, up front alongside Jonathan Franks who was working tirelessly to get crosses into the box.

And the pressure paid off in the 20th minute.

Franks with the cross, poorly punched clear by Chris Dunn to the head of Brad Walker who powered the ball high into the net.

There was a slight deflection on its way in, with Hugill claiming the goal, but it went down officially as Walker’s.

Richard Money’s Cambridge, who had struggled to dominate the midfield early on, hit back through Matt Harrold just past the half hour mark.

From a throw in, the ball fell to Harrold and he hit it low, underneath Scott Flinders from a tight angle.

Hugill almost doubled the lead moments before the break, Franks’ corner was met by the on-loan striker six yards out but he blazed his volley high over the bar.

Half-Time: Pools 1 Cambridge 1

Within moments of the re-start, Franks found himself in on goal but he hesitated and the chance passed him by, prodding the ball wide of the post in the end.

Up the other end, ex-Pools loanee Ryan Donaldson fired in a low shot from the edge of the area, easily scooper up by Flinders.

Franks was again involved in the 55th minute, Dan Jones’ through ball found the forward but his shot was straight at Dunn.

Cambridge switched to a 3-5-2 formation to match up Pools, the Us having lost the midfield battle in the first half.

Pools continued to battle away, Franks full of running up front even though he made the wrong decision at times.

But the breakthrough came in the 67th minute.

Franks’ corner was deep, the ball broke to Harrison who took a touch before firing a powerful volley past Dunn to put Pools 2-1 up.

It was a fantastic strike - the first goal of his professional career.

In the 74th minute, Franks was in again, but his low shot from the right-hand side of the area was fired wide of the post.

Jordan Slew worked himself an opportunity in the 85th minute, twisting and turning inside the area forcing Flinders into a low stop.

Pools had to battle against eight minutes of added-on time, following stoppages after Jones, Tshibola and Hugill all had treatment for knocks.

But they held firm to go out of the bottom two for the first time since October.

Full-Time: Pools 2 Cambridge 1

Pools (3-5-2): Flinders (C), Austin, Harrison, Mirfin, D Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Walker, Tshibola (Hawkins, 79), Hugill (Harewood, 88), Franks.

Subs Not Used: Maxted, Richards, J Jones, Nelson-Addy, Smith.

Booked: Walker (90)

Scorer: Walker (20), Harrison (67)

Cambridge (4-4-2): Dunn, Tait (Simpson, 68), Coulson, Miller (C), Dunk, Donaldson, Champion, Hughes, Hunt (Kaikai, 77), Elliott, Harrold (Slew, 77).

Subs Not Used: Lanzoni, Norris, Nelson, Morrissey.

Booked: None.

Scorer: Harrold (33)

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear)

Attendance: 5,009 (269 Cambridge)