Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STEP CLOSER TO SURVIVAL; Coca Cola LEAGUE 1 HARTLEPOOL UTD 4, GILLINGHAM 0

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STEP CLOSER TO SURVIVAL; Coca Cola LEAGUE 1 HARTLEPOOL UTD 4, GILLINGHAM 0

Article excerpt

Byline: By ANDREW WILKINSON at Victoria Park

HARTLEPOOL made one change, Porter returning to the attack in place of Richie Barker who was missing through injury.

Tom Craddock, on loan from Boro, has to settle for a place on the bench as Hartlepool looked to build on Tuesday's win at Oldham and move further away from the wrong end of the table.

Gillingham, perched on the edge of the relegation zone, kicked off in a strong blustery wind, though the pitch was in excellent condition.

When McCunnie launched the ball forward for Pools it drifted out on the wind for a goal kick.

Miller burst forward for Gillingham, but was halted by a timely tackle from former Boro midfielder Liddle.

Pools were the brighter side in the early exchanges though when McCunnie fouled Jackson a quickly taken free kick almost caught out Pools keeper Lee-Barratt but no Gillingham player was on hand to take advantage when he fumbled the ball.

However, that lifted the visitors and they enjoyed a good spell, Nutter bringing a save out of Lee-Barratt with a rising drive.

Then the keeper had to go down low to his left to turn Facey's shot wide for the game's first corner, which was headed narrowly wide by King.

Oli was next to threaten when his deep cross on 12 minutes led to Lee-Barratt colliding with the post after he collected the ball under the crossbar.

Then Pools broke swiftly forward Monkhouse finding Porter who was about to shoot from close range when Miller slid in with a timely tackle to concede a corner, which was cleared.

But Pools were looking more confident and after a flowing move Sweeney was disappointed to fire harmlessly over the bar after making space 15 yards from goal.

And when Sweeney did find the net on 19 minutes his effort was disallowed for his foul on keeper Stillie.

However on 22 minutes Pools did go ahead when some sloppy play from Gillingham enabled MONKHOUSE to collect the ball 25 yards from goal and he sent a wind-assisted shot flying into the top corner.

Moments later Pools might have doubled their lead when Nelson's header from ten yards struck the bar.

But the home side were brimming with belief and on 26 minutes PORTER raced over half the length of the pitch, beat two defenders and lifted the ball coolly over Stillie to put Pools 2-0 up.

Gillingham looked deflated and were pinned back by Pools, Stillie doing well to punch away an in-swinging corner from McCunnie.

The best the visitors could muster was a long-range effort from Miller, which flew so high over the bar that it went out of the ground.

Half-time: Hartlepool 2, Gillingham 0.

Pools forced two corners and from the second taken by McCunnie, Nelson's powerful header was blocked by Stillie.

Fuller was booked for bringing Monkhouse down just outside the penalty area.

McCunnie took the free kick, his dipping shot bringing another good save out of the Gillingham keeper. …

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