Hartlepool United 0-5 Stockport County

The Hatters returned to League Two action with an emphatic return to winning ways at struggling Hartlepool that also saw them move to within five points of the play-off places.

Two first-half goals in quick succession for Kyle Wootton, followed by three more in the second from captain Paddy Madden, substitute Callum Camps and Will Collar, earned County a first win at Victoria Park for 14 years – and their biggest one there ever.

Returning to the Durham coast for the first time since leaving ‘Pools’ to manage County, Dave Challinor made two changes to the Hatters’ most recent league line-up, and four from that which had subsequently been on FA Cup duty.

Ryan Johnson – one of two former Hartlepool players to feature, along with Macauley Southam-Hales – and Ryan Rydel, making his 50th appearance as a Hatter, replaced the injured Chris Hussey and Antoni Sarcevic from the starting 11 in SK3 against table-topping Leyton Orient a fortnight earlier. Johnson was additionally part of the quartet, also comprising Myles Hippolyte, Fraser Horsfall and Madden, who had not started at Charlton in the Cup’s Second Round. Three of the starters there – namely, Callum Camps, Ollie Crankshaw and Joe Lewis – were included among the substitutes at Victoria Park.

Hippolyte, whose last-gasp header in South East London a week previously had earned the Hatters their forthcoming replay against the ‘Addicks’, also fashioned the first chance of the afternoon in North East England – flashing a shot wide of the right post with three minutes played.

The hosts, languishing in the Football League’s basement position, responded four minutes later with a volley by Mohammed Sylla that fizzed past the corresponding upright at the other end – accommodating a healthy contingent of vociferous travelling Hatters.

County’s Twelfth Man representatives had even more to cheer about after a quarter of an hour, when the Hatters took the lead. A long ball forward by Ben Hinchliffe was headed by Reghan Tumility towards Hinchliffe’s opposite goalkeeping number, Ben Killip, but fell woefully short – enabling Wottton to intercept and chip over Killip.

Four minutes later, Wootton – and County – scored a second, after Southam-Hales sent a ball down the right flank to Collar, who squared for Wootton to slot home from close range.

Eight minutes ahead of the break, Callum Cooke’s cross from the left found Chris Missilou – who headed off target. And at the home end, from a Southam-Hales delivery on the right, Hippolyte executed an overhead kick that flew into the arms of Killip.

Pools’ best chance of the half arrived in the dying stages of normal time, as Cooke’s through-ball played Jake Hastie in – but, with the goal at his mercy (and mercifully for County), the forward skewed a shot wide of the right post.

HALF-TIME: Hartlepool 0, County 2 (Wootton, 15 and 19). 

Hartlepool emerged after the interval with some attacking intent – bringing on Livingston loanee striker Jack Hamilton, and going close when David Ferguson’s cross from the left just evaded leading scorer Josh Umerah at the far post and proceeded to soar narrowly wide.

The Hatters then went close through Madden, who fired beyond the right post; Collar, whose shot from the edge of the box was held by Killip; and Hippolyte, who latched on to Madden’s nod-down from the right, before bundling wide of the near upright.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man. And from Rydel’s corner on the right, with 60 minutes gone, Madden headed in off the far post to net a third goal for the Hatters.

Camps made it four only two minutes following his introduction – having passed the ball out to Collar on his right, and then converting after Collar’s low shot ricocheted back into his path.

And Collar capped a five-star County performance when, with five minutes remaining, he dispossessed Rollin Menayese before advancing on goal and drilling home into the bottom-left corner.

FULL-TIME: Hartlepool 0, County 5 (Wootton, 15 and 19; Madden, 60; Camps, 67; Collar, 85). 

Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright (Brown, 83), Horsfall, R. Johnson; Southam-Hales, Collar, Croasdale (MacDonald, 72), Rydel; Hippolyte (Camps, 65); Wootton, Madden (Capt.) (Crankshaw, 72).

Unused Subs: Jones, Evans, Lewis.

Booked: Hippolyte, Croasdale.

Attendance: 5,079 (685 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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