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21:47 1th March 2011


Town recorded their first win in five tonight courtesy of Anthony Pilkington's 14th goal of the season.

Pilkington's 12th minute strike was enough to ensure Lee Clark's men got back to winning ways and continued their unbeaten run in the League throughout 2011.

Lee Clark made four changes to the side that drew against Leyton Orient on the weekend, the most notable of those was the inclusion of goalscorer against the O's, Lee Novak, in place of Benik Afobe and Jordan Rhodes as Town reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation.

Town flew out the blocks and immediately had the Pools backline under pressure when Lee Novak did well to charge down the kick-off. Novak then received the ball from a poor clearance by Sam Collins and skilfully played in Gary Roberts who thought he was through on goal, only to have his progress halted by the linesman's flag.

The Pools won the first free-kick of the game in the ninth minute when Antony Kay fouled the Pools on loan striker Ryan Donaldson. The resulting free-kick was a poor one from the Pools, and Peter Clarke cleared with ease for the Terriers.

GOAL -Anthony Pilkington broke the deadlock on the stroke of 12 minutes in bizarre circumstances for the Terriers. A lofted ball into the Pools area by Lee Novak was challenged for by Gary Roberts who, along with the travelling Terriers thought he was fouled, however as the referee waved his claims away, Pilkington got a hold of the loose ball and buried it past a hapless Scott Flinders to score his 25th goal for the Club on the 175th start of his career.

Town had a glorious chance to double their advantage in the 20th minute; however, Arfield was thwarted by a low save from Flinders. An excellent cross from Roberts had Sam Collins at full stretch to deny Pilkington, however the danger wasn't over as the winger recycled the chance and laid off the waiting Arfield, who from five yards failed to beat the Pools 'keeper.

Minutes later Town unlocked the Pools defence and it was again Roberts acting as the architect. The winger turned neatly in the box to lay off the onrushing Stephen Jordan who fired a shot at the Pools goal, which was parried away well by Flinders and denied the full-back the chance to score his first career goal.

BOOKING - Paul Murray was the first to go into Mr Coote's book when he reckless bought down Pilkington as he looked to break for the Terriers in the 27th minute.

An excellent piece of defending from the Pools left-back, Evan Horwood, prevented Lee Novak heading home Town's second of the night. Another wicked, out swinging cross from the left by Roberts looked destined to land on Novak's head; however, a vital interception by Horwood cleared the ball to safety. The resulting corner was claimed well by Flinders in Hartlepool's goal.

Town continued to force the issue at Victoria Park and in the 34th minute Pilkington was unlucky not to do better with a volley from 12 yards. Clarke - who was forward for a throw in - flicked the ball on neatly to Town's goalscorer who sharply hit a half-volley which was gathered with ease by Flinders.

BOOKING - In first half injury time Peter Hartley was booked for the Pools as a result of a heavy challenge on Lee Novak 30 yards out. The resulting free-kick - which was well worked by Town - was hit just wide by Joey Gudjonsson.


Town started the game on the front foot and spent the opening exchanges of the half in the Hartlepool defensive third. In the 48th minute Scott Arfield thought he had doubled Town's lead, however, his side foot effort was ruled out for offside following some instinctive strike play from Lee Novak.

The midfielder was in the action again moments later forcing Flinders into a comfortable, low save from 25 yards.

The Terriers created their best chance of the half in the 53rd minute when Peter Clarke forced Flinders to produce an excellent diving save. Town's Captain was unmarked in the Pools penalty box and was found with a superb cross from Pilkington; the defender rose well and fired a header at Flinders who had to be at his best to keep out the effort. The resulting corner was attacked well by Town and Antony Kay went close, however, his header was cleared just before it reached the Pools 'keeper.

Hartlepool eventually broke their defensive shackles and in the 56th minute their attacking momentum was halted when Stephen Jordan brought down Donaldson. The resulting free-kick from Horwood almost had the beating of Ian Bennett, however, Town's keeper managed to shovel the effort wide.

The Pools grew in confidence following Horwood's effort and almost equalised when Andy Monkhouse broke down Town's right and narrowly hit a shot wide of Bennett's goal.

A smart piece of defending from Kevin Kilbane in the 63th minute prevented Antony Sweeney testing Ian Bennett. The midfielder covered well for Peter Clarke and put his body in the way of Sweeney's effort, which looked goal bound.

SUB - Mick Wadsworth made his first change of the night in the 69th minute replacing Paul Murray with Colin Larkin. Wadsworth's change looked to indicate the Pools changing to a more attacking strategy with Larkin joining Donaldson in attack.

After a quiet period, Pilkington sparked back into life in the 71st minute stinging the hands of Flinders with an effort from 20 yards.

BOOKING - Antony Kay was shown Town's first yellow card of the night in the 73rd minute for a foul on Colin Larkin - springing the Town vans into voice as Kay's foul looked a fair one.

BOOKING - Ryan Donaldson was the next man to get booked in the 74th minute for a late slide tackle on Peter Clarke as he attempted to clear the danger.

BOOKING - Referee Coote had his card out again in the 77th minute, cautioning Lee Novak for a heavy challenge on Monkhouse.

SUB - In the 79th minute Wadsworth made his second change of the night replacing Ryan Donaldson for James Brown who made his return from injury.

BOOKING - Joey Gudjonsson was the man entering the referee's book in the 79th minute for a foul in the centre of the park.

With seven minutes left on the clock Arfield fouled Monkhouse 20 yards out and offered Pools the chance to test Bennett. Horwood stood over the ball and failed to beat the Terriers wall who deflected the ball out for a corner. The resulting corner was well defended by Town who cleared the danger successfully.

BOOKING - Hartlepool received their fourth caution of the night when in the 85th minute Leon McSweeney was reprimanded for a foul on Roberts.

SUB - In the 89th minute Lee Clark made his first change of the night replacing the tireless Lee Novak with Benik Afobe.

To the surprise of the Town faithful, the fourth official announced six minutes of injury time.

BOOKINGS - In the fifth minute of injury time both Sam Collins and Lee Peltier were booked after the pair had a confrontation.

Town defended well during the six minutes of injury time and saw out the game comfortably.


Town's team (4-3-3):

Ian Bennett; Stephen Jordan, Peter Clarke (c), Antony Kay, Lee Peltier; Kevin Kilbane, Joey Gudjonsson, Scott Arfield; Gary Roberts, Lee Novak (Benik Afobe 89), Anthony Pilkington

Unused subs: Alex Smithies, Chris Atkinson, Jamie McCombe, Jack Hunt, Jordan Rhodes, Alan Lee

Attendance - 2857

Away - 564


Town: Antony Kay 73, Lee Novak 77, Joey Gudjonsson 79, Lee Peltier 90 + 5

Pools: Paul Murray 26, Peter Hartley 45+1, Ryan Donaldson 74, Leon McSweeney 85, Sam Collins 90 + 5

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    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.