A goal either side of the break condemned Cheltenham Town to a frustrating defeat at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park.
It was only the bottom club’s second home win of the season, and their first in the league since the start of September but they dominated here from start to finish to bag three valuable points.
It was such an important win for Ronnie Moore’s side, one that keeps their slim survival hopes alive but with more performances like this, the Robins could find themselves embroiled in a dogfight of their own.
They were denied by the woodwork on two occasions in the dying moments, but they were second best for the majority of the game to undo their progress at Oxford last weekend.
Paul Buckle named the same 18 that won that game and began this one with a 4-4-2 formation, matching the hosts from the off.
They made a predictably bright start, given their perilous league standing and made most of the running in the first half and merited their half-time advantage.
Trevor Carson was called into an early stop when Michael Duckworth drilled a low effort from an angle down the right, while Jack Compton got one away from a similar position down the left. This one though faded past the left upright.
Matt Richards was in the right place at the right time to nod clear Scott Harrison’s header with 19 minutes on the clock and Scott Fenwick should have given his side the lead four minutes later with a great chance from 12 yards, but the striker hit it straight at Carson.
It fell to Fenwick to open the scoring seven minutes before the interval after a good move down the left, although Cheltenham’s defending was suspect.
Compton picked up play and delivered a decent cross that evaded Carson before being bundled home by the Pools striker.
Jack Dunn carried on where he left off at Oxford last weekend and had the ball in the back of the net within two minutes of the restart, but it was ruled out for offside.
But the home side were clearly buoyed by their goal before half-time and created a flurry of chances to extend their lead early in the second half.
Rakish Bingham tried his luck from the edge of the box with a decent curler, but Carson held
Then Jonathan Franks, who caused problems for Craig Braham-Barrett all afternoon, saw a long ranger deflected wide.
Lloyd Jones was then forced into a desperate clearance after Compton’s free-kick was deflected off Richards and into the path of Fenwick, but the striker couldn’t find a way past the promising Liverpool centre half.
It was Bingham though, with 21 minutes to play, that doubled the advantage when Hartlepool countered following a half-chance for Byron Harrison, who had come on for Omari Sterling-James shortly after the break.
Braham-Barett allowed the former Robins trialist to carry the ball a long way down the right before affording him the space to shoot from the edge of the box, and it beat Carson to his right.
Dan Jones and Fenwick went close, then Jones had it in the back of the net but his scruffy effort at the far post was chalked off for offside.
The next chance fell to Michael Woods, but his effort flew narrowly over before Fenwick stabbed one wide.
At the other end, Dunn’s shot on the turn travelled foot wide of the left upright as Cheltenham rallied late to try and salvage something.
Kevin Stewart’s looping header came back off the post after some good work by Dunn, and then Richards’ cross from the right was deflected by Jones onto the bar.
And there were ugly scenes as the referee blew for full time involving players from both teams, ultimately ending bookings for Dunn and Harrison.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Flinders (c); Duckworth, Harrison, Jones, Austin; Franks, Tshibola, Woods, Compton; Bingham, Fenwick. Subs not used: Maxted, Holden, Bates, Walker, Featherstone, Richards, Nearney.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Carson; Vaughan, Jones, Brown (c), Braham-Barrett; Ferdinand, Stewart, Richards, Sterling-James (Harrison 54); Dunn, Gornell (Williams 69). Subs not used: Haworth, Deaman, Hanks, Kotwica, Reynolds.
REFEREE: R Clark
ATTENDANCE: 3,155 (177 from Cheltenham)