TRIALIST Nialle Rodney was on target as Hartlepool United ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at Whitby Town tonight.
The 22-year-old, who scored Pools’ only goal during this month’s tour of Holland, netted within 12 minutes of his half-time introduction after skipper Antony Sweeney had given the visitors an early lead.
The victory was Colin Cooper’s first since taking charge of Pools and he will now prepare his side for the visit of former club Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Pools, who were in control for the large part at the Turnbull Ground, were very quickly on the offensive and a Jonathan Franks pull-back – the winger having scampered onto a Sweeney throughball – narrowly evaded the toe of Luke James just three yards from goal.
But Sweeney made no such mistake on 11 minutes when he steamed onto Franks’ centre before turning a first-time volley into the bottom corner from eight yards.
It wasn’t until the half-hour that the visitors next threatened and it was the same Franks-Sweeney combo which forged the opening, the former crossing for the latter who headed over from 10 yards.
Pools made 10 outfield changes at the break - Scott Flinders remaining in goal - with Steve Howard appearing for the first time since returning to the club from a loan stint at Sheffield Wednesday.
He was joined by Rodney in attack and it was the trialist who doubled the advantage on 57 minutes, racing onto a James Poole threaded pass before driving in on goal and poking beneath former Pools goalkeeper Mark Cook.
Cook had to be on his guard to prevent a third on 70 minutes when Lewis Hawkins’ deflected lob looped towards the top corner, the stopper backpedalling to claw clear.
Howard then stung the netminder’s palms with a blast from 12 yards and the same player was denied when centre-back Kevin Burgess hooked his low prod over the crossbar.