GOALS from Luke James, Luke Williams and a comical own goal secured a 3-0 Hartlepool United victory over Newport County in their Sky Bet League Two match at Victoria Park.
James struck in the 41st minute with a low, crisp shot from the edge of the area - the 19-year-old’s 13th of the season - to give Colin Cooper’s unchanged team the lead going into the break.
But within 10 minutes of the re-start, Newport County’s defence combined to give Pools a 2-0 lead through Andy Sandell’s own goal in the 55th minute.
Williams made it three with the final kick of the match, a low effort in the third minute of added on time at the end of the match.
Neil Austin again missed out with a toe injury, so Jordan Richards retained his place in the first team, alongside captain Sam Collins, on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess and left-back Darren Holden.
Michael Duckworth, out for a month after a double hernia operation, returned to the squad and is named on the bench.
Marlon Harewood and James were again given the opportunity to continue their strike partnership, while Boro loanee Williams again started for Pools.
The club’s other loanee, Jack Barmby, was named on a strong looking Pools bench.
Pools started the day 11th in League Two, while today’s opposition Newport were 8th before kick-off, just a place outside of the play-offs but with three games in hand.
Captain Collins had the first chance of the afternoo, heading just over the bar in the sixth minute following a pin-point Simon Walton corner.
Newport’s David Pipe then screamed a long-range shot just wide of Scott Flinders’ left-hand post five minutes later as the Welsh side pushed forward for their first attack.
Pools hit back with first Burgess shooting a foot over the bar from 25-yards plus after breaking through the middle of midfield in the 15th minute, before 60 seconds later Newport keeper Elliott Parish saved low from an effort from Richards, who had burst into the box.
Williams, Andy Monkhouse and Brad Walker combined well to eventually set up the Pools right-back but his curled effort was easily saved.
Despite openings for both sides, Pools and Newport failed to get out of first gear in the opening 20 minutes at The Vic.
Pools, in particular, were sitting too deep and inviting pressure.
There was an early yellow card for Holden, in the 22nd minute, for pulling back winger Shaun Jeffers, while two minutes later Harewood was also booked during an increasingly agitated opening 25 minutes.
For most of the opening 45 minutes, the play was inside the Pools half of the pitch with Cooper’s men struggling to get the ball forward consistently.
Collins had to clear a goal-bound Ryan Burge shot from around 12-yards out in the 37th minute, with the ball bouncing away for a corner.
Then, in the 41st minute Pools took the lead through top-scoring teenager James.
Amble-born James was presented with the opportunity thanks to good work from Walton, who won the ball on the left-hand touchline before whipping in a dangerous cross.
James did the rest, taking a touch with his left foot with his back to goal before shooting low past Parish with his right foot.
Burgess then had to be alert to maintain the lead, a last-ditch tackle after Collins had been dispossessed inside the penalty area.
Referee Trevor Kettle blew his whistle for the half-time break, with Pools leading 1-0.
HALF TIME: Pools 1 Newport County 0
Newport’s Harry Worley and Pools’ Walker went into the referee’s book within five minutes of the re-start, the 17-year-old being booked for shirt pulling.
It wasn’t long before Pools had doubled their lead in the 55th minute through one of the most clumsy and comical own goals you’ll see this season.
Walton’s corner from the left-hand side was headed by Lee Minshull onto Worley before finally going into the net of Andy Sandell - with no Pools players near.
The Pools players almost looked too embarrassed to celebrate as they doubled their lead in the most fortunate of manners.
Despite going two up, Pools continued to sit deep as the half wore, although Richards tried his best to move the ball forward down the right flank.
In the 70th minute, Monkhouse was dispossessed near the half-way line by Newport forward Rene Howe, who shot across goal and Collins managed to jump over the ball to avoid knocking it in.
Cooper made his first sub in the 72nd minute, Jack Barmby coming on for Harewood, with Pools switching to a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Williams tucked in behind James.
Newport took off Pipe and Jeffers, with Chris Zebrowski and Christian Jolley coming on.
Cooper’s substitution was aimed at shoring up the win and the next 10 minutes was fairly equal between the two sides, with neither creating anymore clear chances.
Barmby - trying to do too much - was struggling to beat his man down the right wing despite several attempts.
Williams again looked Pools’ brightest player going forward and played in Holden in the 86th minute with a delightful through-ball but the left-back was unable to make the most of it and his shot was blocked.
Goalscorer James was subbed in the 87th minute, with winger Jonathan Franks entering the fray for the final few minutes.
Franks looked purposeful when he came on and his dipping deflected shot was just over the bar.
Williams then made it 3-0 in the 93rd minute, with the final kick of the match.
A low, crisp shot from eight yards following a neat lay-off from Monkhouse to give the on-loan Boro forward his second goal in a week to wrap up victory.
FULL-TIME: Pools 3 Newport County 0
Hartlepool United (4-4-2): Flinders; Richards; Holden; Collins (C); Burgess; Walton; Walker; Monkhouse; Williams; James (Franks, 87); Harewood (Barmby, 72).
Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Poole; Compton; Sweeney; Duckworth.
Booked: Holden, Harewood, Walker.
Goal: James (41), Sandwell OG (55), Williams (93)
Newport County (3-4-3): Parish; Sandell; Naylor; Worley; Pipe (C) (Zebrowski, 72); Chapman; Minshull (Porter, 62); Willmott; Jeffers (Jolley, 72); Burge; Howe.
Subs Not Used: Hughes; Crow; Jackson; Thompson.
Booked: Worley, Naylor.
Victoria Park, Hartlepool.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Berkshire)
Attendance: 3,470 (127 Newport)