Hartlepool Utd 2 Northampton 0: Pools keep up super home run

Hartlepool's Andy Monkhouse gets in a first half header at the Rink End against Northampton Town. PICTURE BY FRANK REID
Hartlepool's Andy Monkhouse gets in a first half header at the Rink End against Northampton Town. PICTURE BY FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United made it four straight league wins at Victoria Park thanks to a routine 2-0 win against Northampton Town in Sky Bet League Two.

Goals from Luke James, his 10th of the season, and a Simon Walton penalty were enough to secure all three points against bottom-of-the-table Town.

It was a fairly flat encounter at The Vic with chances for either side kept to a minimum but Colin Cooper’s side dominated the possession and deserved the win.

Cooper had kept faith with the same starting 11 beaten in Pools’ last match, the 2-0 defeat away to Newport County, with top scorer James and James Poole again leading the line.

Pools, who have now won six out their last eight league games,were looking to bounce straight back from the 2-0 defeat in South Wales.

It was a flat start to the game from Pools’ point of view and Northampton almost took the lead in the second minute, Luke Norris hitting the post with his yellow right boot, with Scott Flinders helpless in goal.

Northampton captain Paul Reid then went close but his free header from a corner flew just wide of Flinders’ left hand post.

The highlight of the opening 15 minutes was when Town striker Jacob Blyth collided with Pools mascot H’Angus on the Cyril Knowles touchline, the cheeky chimp diving to the floor and appealing for a free-kick.

Even Aidy Boothroyd in the away dugout found it funny and pretended to drag the stretcher down to the stricken monkey.

On-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan blasted an effort wide of the left-hand post in the 16th minute as Pools attempted to get a foothold in the game.

Pools did hit the post themselves in the 21st minute after the ball went through the hands of away keeper Matt Duke but the whistle had already gone for a Pools handball inside the area.

Then, in the 23rd minute, Pools took the lead courtesy of teenage sensation James.

The 18-year-old took advantage of a defence splitting 30-yard Dolan pass, controlled the ball on his left before firing a low shot with his right boot past the despairing Duke.

It was another fine finish for Amble-born James and takes his tally to 10 for the season.

Winger Andy Monkhouse was booked in the 27th minute after a late high challenge on Ben Tozer, although the Town right-back made the most of the tackle and was able to carry on, to the delight of the Poolie faithful on the Mill House terrace.

The goal failed to inject any life or drive into the game but Pools were comfortable against the bottom-of-the-table side.

A delightful piece of footwork from Poole in the 39th minute saw him burst through the centre of the Town defence and he was bought down on the edge of the box.

Dolan and Jack Compton had a disagreement over who should take it but the it was the Middlesbrough man who stepped up, curling his shot into the wall.

Poole was again the home side’s danger man and he drew a foul from Paul Reid moments before the half-time break after a smart turn on the half-way line.

From the resulting Dolan free-kick it was that man again James who connected, hitting the bar after a smart right-footed volley inside the area and the ball was cleared to safety.

HALF TIME: Pools 1 Northampton Town 0

Pools came out of the traps far quicker in the second half, a lively Compton cutting in from the left flank before shooting just wide of the right hand post.

Moments later, it was 2-0. James Poole showed pace and trickery to beat Reid before being clattered by Matthias Kouo-Doumbe inside the penalty area in front of the Town End.

Simon Walton stepped up and cooly slotted the ball into the right hand corner of the net to give Cooper’s side a commanding 2-0 lead in the 49th minute.

Compton’s free kick from 25-yards out was then tipped over the bar by Duke minutes later as Pools looked to capitalise on their lead against a toothless Northampton side.

Dangerman Poole was then withdrawn in the 59th minute after picking up what looked like a knock to his left ankle, and he was replaced by club captain Antony Sweeney.

Boothroyd responded and bought on Ian Morris in place of Luke Norris, who had started the game well but quickly disappeared as the game wore on.

James forced Duke into making a save in the 63rd minute, shooting low from the edge of the area, after taking control of a sweet Compton pass.

It was the 18-year-old again causing trouble moments later, his header deflected wide for a corner after a good cross to the back stick from Michael Duckworth.

Northampton were struggling to deal with Compton on the right wing and the tireless James up front as Pools continued to push forward in an attempt to boost their goal difference.

Experienced Clive Platt was bought on by Boothroyd with 20 minutes left to play as his side looked to get back into the game.

Young midfielder Bradley Walker, fresh from his call-up to the England Under-18 training camp in midweek, came on as a substitute for Pools in the 74th minute, replacing Dolan.

The 17-year-old slotted in alongside Walton as Cooper looked to close out the game.

Walker went close in the 84th minute after an excellent interchange with Sweeney, who provided energy when he came off the bench, but Duke was equal to the shot, while Compton’s fierce effort moments later was just over the bar.

Pools were comfortable in the final stages and finished the game worthy winners.

FULL TIME: Pools 2 Northampton Town 0

Hartlepool United: Flinders; Duckworth; Austin (C); Burgess; Baldwin; Walton; Compton, Dolan (Walker,74); Monkhouse; Poole (Sweeney, 59); James (Rodney, 88).

Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Collins; Franks; Richards.

Booked: Monkhouse, Dolan.

Northampton Town: Duke; Widdowson; Tozer; Reid; Emerton; Blyth; Kouo-Doumbe; Dallas (Platt, 71); Ferdinand; Norris (Morris, 61); Ravenhill.

Subs Not Used: Amankwaah, Collins, Deegan, McNamara, Heath.

Booked: Emerton, Reid.

Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 3,617 (Northampton Town 206)