Hughes early decider
Hartlepool United 0-1 Fleetwood Town
Jeff Hughes’ early tap in handed Fleetwood Town another three points on the road as they put last week’s defeat behind them.
The midfielder followed up Antoni Sarcevic’s strike, which was parried by goalkeeper Scott Flinders, to score the only goal of match in the north east.
Nathan Pond, making his first start of the season, had cleared a header off the line earlier on, and Scott Davies made crucial saves to keep Hartlepool at bay, although David Ball’s effort against the post could have added a second.
It was the ideal response to the reversal at Highbury last Saturday, and leaves Town with an 100% away league record.
Graham Alexander was forced into two last minute changes ahead of the match with Ryan Cresswell and Stephen Schumacher failing late fitness tests. Pond replaced Cresswell whilst Stewart Murdoch stood in for Schumacher. Gareth Evans replaced Ryan Crowther in midfield.
Hartlepool started the stronger, and were denied by a goal-line clearance for Pond who was making the most of his start. Jack Compton went past Liam Hogan on the left and crossed for Steve Howard, whose header was met by Pond at the far post.
James Poole then struck wide of the left post after Howard’s lay-off, but Town took the lead moments after.
Sarcevic ran direct at the Hartlepool defence, drilled a low strike at Scott Flinders who could only parry, and Jeff Hughes was on hand to practically walk in the rebound on 14 minutes.
It was the ideal start for Town after conceding three in the first half against Burton Albion last week, and Hughes nearly got in for a second after Ball’s back-heel, but the midfielder directed his effort wide.
Davies was on hand to deny Bradley Walker from long range, and made an outstanding save late in the second half to deny Monkhouse’s header at the far post.
But Ball could have sealed the win before then – unfortunate to see his near post strike come back off the woodwork.
TEAM: Davies, Hogan, Pond, Roberts, Jordan, Brown (Crowther), Murdoch, Hughes, Evans (Howell), Sarcevic, Ball (Matt)
ATTENDANCE: 3,297 (142 Cod Army)