HARTLEPOOL United secured their first win of 2014 with a 2-0 victory over York City courtesy of stunning second-half goals from Luke James and debutant Jack Barmby.
Pools had the better of the few chances created in the opening 45 minutes of their Sky Bet League Two match but couldn’t do enough to take the lead at a blustery Victoria Park.
On this evidence it was no surprise that the last three meetings between the two sides had ended goalless.
The second half followed the similar pattern of the first, with a lot of huffing and puffing but a lack of real quality in the final third.
That was until the 82nd minute when James produced a fine 20-yard finish from the edge of the box to put Pools 1-0 up and seven minutes later it was 2-0.
Barmby, on-loan from Manchester United, came on as a second half sub and marked his Football League debut with an equally stunning finish, again from 20-yards out, which curled into the top left corner of the net to secure the win.
It put an end to three-straight defeats for Pools.
Boss Colin Cooper had made two changes to his side with new loan signing Luke Williams going straight into the team.
Left-back Darren Holden came back into the side in place of the suspended Jordan Richards, serving the first of his three match suspension after seeing red in the third minute against Fleetwood Town last weekend.
New loan signing Williams, 20, starts in midfield, after signing from Middlesbrough for the next month, in place of who Jack Compton who dropped down to the bench.
Meanwhile, Barmby, 19, the son of former England international Nick, started on the bench.
Both Barmby and Williams are attacking midfield players, also at home on either flank.
Holden started the game at left-back, with captain Neil Austin moving across to his familiar right-back berth.
Marlon Harewood, meanwhile, made his home debut for Pools, up front alongside 19-year-old Luke James, who is the current top scorer with 10 goals.
Cooper had lined Pools up in a diamond formation, with Williams tucked in behind the strikers and Brad Walker pushed out wide, Andy Monkhouse on the left side and Simon Walton lying deep.
First chance of the afternoon went to Pools, when Walker played the ball through to James in the 10th minute but the York keeper Nick Pope spread himself well to block the attempt.
Walker then chances his arm from distance in the 16th minute after the ball broke to the teenager on the edge of the area, after good work from the lively Williams.
Pope was able to easily gather the ball. The York keeper was again called into action two minutes later to tip a curled Monhouse effort round the post for a corner.
Pools had started the match strongly and actually had the ball in the back of the next in the 18th minute, but Harewood’s close range effort from inside the six-yard box was ruled offside.
The game settled down over the course of the next 15 minutes, with York making an early substitution with Ryan Bowman replaced by Ryan Jarvis in the 30th minute.
Walker then went into the referee’s book for kicking the ball away after Monkhouse had fouled Russell Penn but the resulting York free-kick was dragged well wide of Flinders’ post.
Pools defender Christian Burgess was also booked for a foul inside Pools’ half on Russell Penn, who left the field hobbling but then managed to recovery well enough to run back on.
Josh Carson then flashed a shot just wide of Flinders’ post as The Minstermen pushed forward.
The game was lacking in real chances and quality, with both sides unable to break the other down.
Pools should have gone in at the break one nil up but Monkhouse’s half-volley in injury time flew just wide of the right-hand post past a clutch of players.
The last action of the half saw Keith Lowe booked for a late challenge on James but the referee blew the whistle before the free-kick could be taken.
Pools 0 York City 0
Both sides stepped their game up in the early stages of the second half, with Scott Flinders saving well from Wes Fletcher twice in the 46th minute, before Williams for Pools had a good chance saved from just outside the six-yard box a minute later.
Carson, meanwhile, was booked for York - who were being supported by almost 1,000 fans - moments later.
Sadly, after a bright start, the game quickly returned to the pattern of the first half; competitive but scrappy and lacking in real quality.
There was very few attempts at goal to report, with the ball staying in the middle of the park for much of the afternoon.
York City’s Lewis Montrose was then booked for a foul on the left-hand side touchline.
Cooper looked to re-shuffle his team as the second half wore on and Harewood was subbed for Jonathan Franks in the 69th minute - with the former Middlesbrough winger going up front alongside James.
The big 34-year-old centre forward had a frustrating afternoon and didn’t really have much chance to link up with James in a game of very few clear-cut chances.
Franks had a good opening in front of goal on the edge of the area but fired high and over the bar into the Town End in the 75th minute.
The Minstermen then had a glorious chance to take the lead but somehow Keith Lowe fired the ball high over the bar above the Rink End from less than six-yards out when it looked easier to score.
Barmby then made his debut in the 79th minute, on for Monkhouse.
And three minutes later, Pools had taken the lead through James’ 11th of the season with a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area after a good knock-down from Jack Baldwin after a deep Walton cross.
It was the teenager’s first goal for the club since the 2-0 win over Northampton Town back in mid-November and he wheeled away in celebration.
Minutes later and Pools had doubled their lead.
Tricky Barmby marked his full debut with a stunning 20-yard curled effort which sailed into the top corner of the net after a good pass from Williams presented him the opportunity from the edge of the box.
It put Pools 2-0 up and Nigel Worthington’s York had no time to get back into the game.
The referee blew his whistle and finally, for Colin Cooper’s Hartlepool side, a first win of 2014.
Pools 2 York City 0
Hartlepool United (4-4-2): Flinders; Austin; Holden; Baldwin; Burgess; Walker; Walton; Monkhouse (Barmby, 79); Williams; Harewood (Franks, 69); James.
Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Collins; Compton; Sweeney; Rodney.
Booked: Walker, Burgess.
Goals: James, (82), Barmby, (89)
York City (4-4-2): Pope; Oyebanjo; Davies; McGurk; Coulson; Fletcher; Penn; Carson; Montrose; Lowe; Bowman (Jarvis, 30, McCombe, 85).
Subs Not Used: Ingham; Smith; McCombe; Platt; Dickinson; Reed.
Booked: Lowe, Carson, Montrose.
Referee: Iain Williamson.
Attendance: 4,673 (York, 956)