Accrington Stanley ended their run of two consecutive defeats as Shay McCartan’s brace helped them to a 3-1 win against Hartlepool United.
The Irishman’s stunning individual goal gave the Reds the lead after 19 minutes but Matthew Bates’ header leveled the scores. Rob Atkinson hit straight back for Stanley in first-half stoppage time with a header of his own to give them a half-time lead and McCartan wrapped up the three points in the second half with a close-range finish.
Stanley manager John Coleman made one change to the team that lost 2-1 at Stevenage on Saturday afternoon with the injured Nicky Hunt dropping out of the starting eleven to be replaced by Shay McCartan.
In Hunt’s absence, Dean Winnard shifted over to right back with Lee Molyneux deputising at left back. McCartan took Molyneux’s place in the attacking trio which was supporting the lone striker, James Gray.
Fulham loanee Jesse Joronen made his home debut in goal for the Reds with Aaron Chapman still sidelined by the injury sustained in the the home defeat to Dagenham 10 days ago.
Molyneux’s early free-kick caused trouble for the Hartlepool defence but goalkeeper Scott Flinders did well to hold the pacy delivery as the ball came through a crowded penalty area.
Michael Duckworth threatened early on for the visitors, cutting in from the right-hand side and dancing beyond a couple of defenders before unleashing a fierce 25-yard shot that whistled past the post of Joronen in the home goal. Home skipper Luke Joyce then did well to cut out a dangerous cross from the marauding full-back.
At the other end, Sean Maguire slipped James Gray in behind but the striker’s angled effort rolled past the far post. The West Ham United loanee decided to go on his own a few minutes later with his 18-yard attempt bouncing into the gloves of Flinders.
Stanley were clearly growing into the game and got the goal their pressure deserved through a some individual brilliance from McCartan, who collected the ball 35 yards out, weaved his way past a plethora of defenders and curled into the top corner from 16 yards for his first goal of the season.
The lead was almost short-lived as Hartlepool’s attacking duo Charlie Wyke and Michael Woods combined superbly in the Stanley penalty area to set the latter up for a powerful close-range strike but Joronen produced a superb one-handed save to tip the ball over the bar.
The visitors would equalise a couple of minutes before half-time from a set-piece. Ryan Brobbel whipped in a free-kick from the left-hand side and Matthew Bates rose highest to flick the ball past Joronen and into the bottom corner.
Parity lasted only three minutes for Hartlepool. John O’Sullivan’s corner in first half stoppage time was perfect for the towering figure of Rob Atkinson, who met the ball with a thumping header to beat Flinders and the covering defender on the goal-line to restore the lead.
O’Sullivan found space on the right hand side at the start of the second half and fizzed in a low cross that Gray threw himself at but the striker was a couple of inches too short and the chance avoided him.
Hartlepool substitute Matt Crooks wasted a glorious chance to equalise when his effort from the edge of the area hit the roof of the Clayton End despite being one-on-one with Joronen.
The substitution that saw Anthony Barry come on for a first home appearance since his return to the club allowed Molyneux to escape from the shackles of left-back and the Scouser almost made the decision pay off immediately, finding space for a shot in the penalty area but Neil Austin threw himself in the way.
Barry curled a shot into the chest of Flinders but Stanley would double their lead with just over ten minutes remaining.
O’Sullivan put another low cross into the penalty area and, with the Hartlepool defenders struggling to clear their lines, McCartan took full advantage to poke the ball in from a few yards out for his second goal of the evening to seal all three points for the Reds.
Stanley: Joronen; Winnard, Aldred, Atkinson, Molyneux; Joyce, Procter; O’Sullivan, Maguire (Barry 62), McCartan (Hatfield 78); Gray (Carver 74).
Subs: Simpson, Windass, Mingoia, Bowerman.
Attendance: 947 (109 away)