GOALS from Simon Walton, Luke James and Matty Dolan secured a fifth successive win for Hartlepool United last night.
Colin Cooper’s side secured back-to-back home wins following Saturday’s 1-0 against Plymouth, and they are now looking capable of mounting a promotion challenge with the play-off places within their sights.
Pools started slowly and it was the visitors who had the ball in the back of the net in the third minute.
Former Darlington striker Michael Smith smashed the ball home with his right boot past Scott Flinders but the referee had already blown his whistle for offside.
Pools’ first opportunity came from a Matty Dolan free-kick which was whipped into the box towards the onrushing Luke James but Jim Fenlon was able to bundle it out for a corner.
The home side finally forced Ross Worner into a save in the 29th minute when Dolan fizzed a long-range effort from 30 yards towards the Rink End goal but the keeper pushed it to safety with both hands.
It seemed to ignite Cooper’s men and they were awarded a penalty a minute later when James Poole was bundled over by Alan Bennett.
Simon Walton made no mistake in smashing the ball high to the right of Worner’s despairing dive.
Wimbledon levelled in the 66th minute form another penalty, awarded when Andy Monkhouse pushed George Porter over inside the area.
Harry Pell stepped up to send Flinders the wrong way.
It wasn’t long before Pools regained their lead, though, thanks to James’s seventh of the season. Walton delivered a lovely floating ball from near to the half-way line and James managed to get a head on it and loop it over Worner to send the home fans wild.
Pools made the game safe in the 83rd minute courtesy of a Dolan drive that was too strong for Worner.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Franks (Richards 80), Walton, Dolan, Poole (Sweeney 87), James, Monkhouse. Subs Not Used: Collins, Rafferty, Holden, Rodney, Walker. Booked: Monkhouse, Walton. Goals: Walton 32 pen, James 72, Dolan 83.
AFC Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Bennett, Weston, Fenlon, Porter, Sammy Moore, Pell (Strutton 73), Luke Moore (Sainte-Luce 69), Peter Sweeney, Smith. Subs Not Used: Kennedy, Francomb, Midson, Antwi, Brown. Booked: Peter Sweeney. Goals: Pell 66 pen.
Att: 3,652 Ref: Darren Bond (Lancashire).
Elsewhere in League Two, Rochdale replaced Chesterfield after a 3-2 win against Northampton.
That was enough to take advantage of Chesterfield’s 2-2 home draw with York City.
Luke O’Neill and Ryan Jarvis put the Minstermen into an unlikely two-goal lead but Jay O’Shea and Armand Gnanduillet (penalty) ensured a point for the hosts.
Bottom club Accrington claimed their first win of the season with a 2-1 triumph over fellow strugglers Bristol Rovers.
H Leyton Orient’s unbeaten run in Sky Bet League One was ended as Coventry completed a 3-1 win over the pacesetters.
Orient and QPR were the only two teams in England yet to be beaten this season but Rangers now stand alone after the Sky Blues’ success at Sixfields.
Carl Baker (10), Franck Moussa (67) and Leon Clarke (77) put the hosts into a surprisingly comfortable position before Orient substitute Yohann Lasimant got a last-gasp consolation.