Hartlepool United 2-1 Wealdstone: Pools avoid late scare to maintain perfect home start

Tom Crawford scored his second goal of the season for Hartlepool United against Wealdstone. Picture by FRANK REID
Tom Crawford scored his second goal of the season for Hartlepool United against Wealdstone. Picture by FRANK REID

Tom Crawford got Hartlepool off to another fast start who then should have put the game to bed before allowing Wealdstone back into things.

Emmanuel Dieseruvwe did double to lead midway through the second half which ought to have seen the game through for Pools before they had to survive a late rally after Tarryn Allarakhia’s curling effort.

But see the game through they did as John Askey’s side bounced back from their defeat at Chesterfield to maintain their perfect home record this.

Pools had plenty to contend with heading into the game as Askey attempted to steer his side back on track following a dramatic late defeat at Chesterfield as well as being dealt two crushing injury blows with the news of Dan Dodds and Anthony Mancini’s season-ending injuries.

Askey made a swift move to address the hole left by Dodds in defence with the arrival of a familiar face in Luke Hendrie who was returning to the Suit Direct Stadium for a third spell on loan from Bradford City.

Hendrie was thrown straight in for his third Hartlepool debut as one of three changes made by Askey – the most surprising of which, perhaps, coming in goal as Joel Dixon was dropped in favour of Pete Jameson who was making his debut as Pools went in search of their first clean sheet under Askey.

Brody Paterson was also handed his first start of the season with Alex Lacey unable to recover from a calf injury as captain David Ferguson dropped in as the left-sided centre-back.

Joe Grey kept his place in attack ahead of former Wealdstone striker Josh Umerah – Umerah having scored 17 times for the Stones during the 2021-22 campaign ahead of his move to the Suit Direct Stadium last summer.

But it was Crawford who took centre stage as Pools very quickly established themselves as the much better of the two teams when opening the scoring inside 11 minutes.

Paterson, who had already shown himself a couple of times on the left, got clear again and his low ball found Grey who did well to hold off his man before setting to Crawford on the edge of the area.

The midfielder struck first time through a crowd of bodies to beat Jed Ward for his second goal of the season.

From there it felt a case of how many Hartlepool might be able to rack up as they enjoyed significant possession in the Wealdstone half – the Stones guilty of inviting pressure when playing out from the back.

Charlie Seaman escaped down the right to find Crawford and after seeing his first attempt blocked, Crawford displayed clever feet to initially beat Alex Dyer before then appearing to be brought down by the defender, only for referee Aaron Bannister to wave away strong protests.

Paterson found space on the left again as his cross came all the way through to Seaman who fired over speculatively before the former Celtic man then saw his own effort go wide after some brilliant persistence from Grey to win back possession.

Pools then ought to have doubled their lead when they, again, caught Wealdstone trying to play out as Ashley Charles squared a ball across his own box for Charlie Barker which gave Callum Cooke an incentive to chase and the midfielder robbed his man to find himself with a clear sight of goal from almost inside the six-yard box only to be denied by Ward.

Pools came forward again through Paterson and spread things well from left to right to Seaman as he drifted inside to fire just wide of the near post.

Wealdstone then had their first real effort at goal as Tahvon Campbell headed into Nathan Ferguson but as he saw the angle to goal closed down by Hendrie he cut inside and fizzed an effort over the bar before Cooke brought a low stop from Ward.

The game waded into a bit of a procession for Hartlepool who almost enjoyed too much control – with complacency, perhaps, the only real threat to their three points, given how little Wealdstone had offered.

And Pools almost addressed that on the stroke of half-time when Grey did well to turn his man from a quick throw on the left and drive towards the area before finding the in-form Dieseruvwe but this time, despite shifting onto his right, he saw his effort blocked.

Despite their lead at the break, Askey will likely have sent a warning to his players but they almost surrendered their lead within a minute of the restart as Campbell latched onto a short back pass by Emmanuel Onariase which required Jameson to be alert.

Grey looked to grab the game by the scruff of the neck when he picked up a pass by Kieran Wallace to turn and hammer towards goal which brought a fine save from Ward.

The resulting corner landed at the feet of Seaman who saw a goalbound effort turned behind again before Grey had another opportunity to double the lead when Crawford headed back into the area for the forward who turned over the bar from close range.

Charles curled narrowly wide from a free kick before Campbell had a golden opportunity to level the scores when beating Onariase to a long ball where he was able to drive in from the angle of the area with Jameson on hand again to deny.

The visitors were growing in confidence, with Campbell the architect as the 26-year-old found space on the left to stand a clever ball up to the back post for Jack Cook who headed a perfect ball back across goal but, fortunately for Pools, it drifted harmlessly wide of the post.

You could sense the anxiety starting to creep in around the Suit Direct Stadium at that point as Askey turned to his bench with Umerah and Oliver Finney being brought on and Pools soon doubled their lead through Dieseruvwe’s sixth of the season.

And it was almost a carbon copy of the striker’s first goal against AFC Fylde last time here at the Suit Direct Stadium when he met a gorgeous cross from Ferguson to head back across goal into the corner.

But the relief was short-lived as Wealdstone hit back within five minutes through Allarakhia.

The midfielder looked for a ball to Ferguson in the box but saw the rebound land back at his feet and curled a fine effort in off the post beyond the outstretched Jameson.

Jameson was on hand to prevent the Stones an equaliser as former Hartlepool forward Olufela Olomola turned well from Cook’s ball and curled towards the top corner only to be denied by a flying save.

The visitors continued to press for an equaliser and looked destined to get it when Corrie Andrews turned Onariase from a long ball to make space for a clear sight of goal – only for Onariase to make a superb last-ditch block.

Wealdstone then went even closer in stoppage time as a clearance fell the way of Barker who arrowed one off the top of the bar with Jameson at full stretch.

But despite having to work hard for it, Pools just about avoided a late scare to continue their impressive home form.

Hartlepool United XI: Jameson, Seaman, Hendrie, Onariase, Ferguson ©, Paterson, Wallace (Burton ‘82), Crawford, Cooke (Finney ‘63), Grey (Umerah ‘63), Dieseruvwe

Subs: Dixon, Hastie

Wealdstone XI: Ward, Cook ©, Barker, Charles, Dyer (Olomola ‘77), Ferguson, Obiero, Clayden, Bowen (Allarakhia ‘45), Mundle-Smith, Campbell (Andrews ‘74)

Subs: Barrett,, Adarkwa

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Attendance: 4,072 (115 Wealdstone)