Hartlepool United close in on safety mark

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MICK Wadsworth believes Hartlepool United took a “huge step” towards League One survival after last night’s 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic, writes Craig Hope.

Pools’ nightmare start to 2011 had silenced all previous talk of a play-off push, instead raising grave concerns that another relegation scrap could be on the cards.

But successive home wins over Colchester United and now The Addicks – bookending Saturday’s heavy loss at Brighton – have allayed those fears with the latest points haul moving Wadsworth’s boys nine clear of the third-tier trapdoor.

Last night’s success was achieved thanks to goals from Andy Monkhouse and Gary Liddle, interspersed by Nathan Ecclestone’s equaliser, and Wadsworth said it was the perfect start to a trio of matches at The Vic.

“This result is a huge step towards survival and a great start to these three home games,” he said.

“From the first minute until the last, their goal apart, I thought we were the better team.

“I’m thrilled for the players and not just myself because we needed a performance and a result after Saturday.

“But I have to say I didn’t feel in an anxious state at any point, even when they equalised because I thought it was against the run of play.

“But we came back and that’s a big plus for the lads.

“They have bounced back excellently and that’s a good quality – what I want them to do next time is bounce back after they’ve just bounced back!”

From the first minute Pools demonstrated their intention to right the wrongs of the weekend catastrophe at Brighton and took the lead through Monkhouse on 14 minutes.

Ecclestone levelled nine minutes into the second period but Liddle headed his fifth of the season just after the hour mark to seal the points.

And, from goalkeeper Scott Flinders through to the recalled front pairing of James Brown and Ryan Donaldson, Wadsworth couldn’t pick fault with any of his men.

“They were all brilliant, I must say that,” added the Pools boss, whose side are up to 12th in the table with MK Dons next up on Saturday.

“The movement of the strikers was good, the wing play from Andy (Monkhouse) and Sweens (Antony Sweeney) was hard working and industrious and they got into the box as well.

“The midfield pair won their battle and the back four were just slightly better than they were at Brighton!

“A friend of mine said years ago that ‘excellence was simplicity’ and that’s what we did well.

“I’ve always believed in it being a case of what we do well rather than worrying about the opposition and that was certainly how we did it.

“We chased things down and didn’t give in and a great example of that was Sweens for the second goal when he’s won a corner through chasing a lost cause.

“I’m delighted and this sets us up well for the next couple of games.”

Hartlepool: Flinders, Haslam, Hartley, Collins, Horwood, Sweeney (McSweeney 88), Murray, Liddle, Monkhouse, Donaldson (Humphreys 80), Brown (Larkin 70). Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Gamble, Boyd, Yantorno. Booked: Collins, Murray. Goals: Monkhouse 14, Liddle 62.

Charlton: Elliot, Francis (Jenkinson 52), Dailly, Doherty, Fry, Eccleston, McCormack (Reid 66), Semedo, Jackson, Wright-Phillips, Abbott. Subs Not Used: Worner, Llera, Wagstaff, Solly, Fortune. Booked: Fry, Jenkinson. Goals: Eccleston 54.

Att: 2,289

Ref: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire)