Hartlepool United’s Hughes: We can still get out of this!

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JOHN Hughes will call on his players for one last survival push after a weekend of good fortune at the bottom of League One.

Pools enjoyed a first win in nine attempts thanks to an Andy Monkhouse double against Bury on Saturday, leapfrogging their visitors into 23rd position.

But it was events elsewhere which also served to reignite hope of an escape act, defeats for Oldham Athletic and Scunthorpe United seeing Pools move to within five points of safety.

Next up for Pools is a trip to Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, and Hughes is relieved that his men are still in with a shout of avoiding the drop.

“We have given ourselves a bit of hope and I’ve said many a time that if we are still in there fighting in April, I’d be pleased,” the Scot said.

“It was a must-win game on Saturday and we produced the goods. The win keeps us alive and took us off the bottom of the league so all credit to the boys.

“We aim to finish the season on a high and get the pride in the club.

“Hopefully the supporters went home happy at the weekend. There’s three to go, three cup finals for us, and we’ll be giving it our best shot.”

Hughes was relieved that Pools finally broke a run of nearly 13 hours without a goal.

The barren patch – which extended into its ninth match – will almost certainly prove too costly when it comes to the final reckoning in three weeks’ time.

But Saturday’s 2-0 success over fellow relegation candidates Bury meant Pools avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Football League club to confirm their demotion.

Andy Monkhouse was the star man with a pair of headed goals, and Hughes admits his 42nd-minute opener was long overdue.

“Eight games without scoring wasn’t good enough so we opened up a bit, going 4-4-2,” said the Scot.

“It left us open and we nearly got caught once or twice, but it gave us more of a threat up front.

“The goal took a while coming though and it was a relief to end that run.”

Bury’s hopes of fighting back from Monkhouse’s first goal were not helped by the dismissal of Craig Fagan before half-time after some strongarm tactics on Darren Holden.

Monkhouse then made the points safe on 72 minutes, nodding into the corner from 12 yards.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Holden, Franks, Baldwin, Walton (Rutherford 84), Monkhouse, James (Boagey 90), Wyke (Humphreys 46). Subs Not Used: McHugh, Luscombe, Rowbotham, Hawkins. Booked: Monkhouse. Goals: Monkhouse 42, 71.

Bury: Belford, Ebanks-Landell, Sodje, Eastham, Worrall, Carrington, Thompson (Mezague 77), Soares (Regan 79), Ajose (Clarke-Harris 54), Fagan, Bishop. Subs Not Used: Carson. Sent Off: Fagan (45). Booked: Carrington, Sodje.

Att: 2,939 Ref: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire).