REPORT: Hartlepool 2-0 Cheltenham TownCheltenham Town’s unbeaten run came to an end as Hartlepool beat them 2-0 on a cold afternoon at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.
Lewis Alessandra put The Pools ahead just before the break with a curled effort despite a relatively even first half.
The Robins tried to make a game of it in the second half and went close on a number of occasions, but Matthew Bates killed the game off on 79 minutes with a header.
The result sees Cheltenham drop down to 21st place in the League Two table.
Gary Johnson made one change to the side that beat Bolton in the week as Russell Griffiths came in for Calum Kitscha.
It was Hartlepool who made the better start as the home side looked to get on the front foot and attack Cheltenham early on, though they were struggling to create any real opportunities.
The Robins’ first chance came after 22 minutes when Harry Pell stole the ball from Toto Nsiala in midfield, but after a surging run to the edge of the Hartlepool box his powerful shot flew just wide of the right hand top corner.
Cheltenham were starting to get themselves into the game at this point, and thought they’d gone ahead three minutes later when Danny Wright tucked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside.
Both sides were creating regular chances by this point, and it took a clever block from Jordan Cranston to keep out and acrobatic effort from Nicky Deverdics after half an hour.
The fast tempo of the game was broken up soon after, though, as former Cheltenham goalkeeper Trevor Carson had to go off after a considerable amount of treatment following a clash with Billy Waters.
As the game went into the fifth minute of first half added time, Alessandra picked the ball up on the left hand side of the box and curled it across goal into the top corner to put The Pools ahead at the break.
Less than a minute after the restart, Hartlepool’s substitute goalkeeper was forced into making a brilliant reaction save as Pell’s shot was deflected towards goal by Nsiala.
Other than that the game seemed to have fizzled out, as Cheltenham struggled to create any clear-cut chances and Hartlepool’s only real effort before the hour mark coming through a poor header from Padraig Amond.
After 68 minutes Rob Dickie’s long throw was cleared as far as James Dayton, who crossed it straight onto the head of Pell, but his effort went narrowly over the woodwork.
Soon after, Cheltenham went close again when substitute Dan Holman’s header was somehow cleared off the line and scrambled away by the home side.
The Robins were starting to take control of the game as they searched for an equaliser, but had to be weary of a Hartlepool break as most of the ground thought they’d put the game to bed on 74 minutes when Alessandra’s shot went narrowly wide.
The Pools went close again not long after when Amond struck the post with a fierce volley.
They then put the game out of sight with just over ten minutes to go when a free kick was whipped into the box, and Bates rose the highest to flick the ball past Griffiths and into the back of the net.
Hartlepool United: T Carson (A Bartlett, 37), L Donnelly (S Harrison, 88), T Nsiala, M Bates, J Carroll, N Featherstone, J Laurent, L Hawkins, L Alessandra, P Amond, N Deverdics (M Woods, 82).
Unused Subs: B Paynter, R Oates, J Richards, J Orrell.
Cheltenham Town: R Griffiths, A Downes (C), D Parslow, D O’Shaughnessy, R Dickie, J Cranston, H Pell, J Munns (D Holman, 57), J Dayton (K Arthur, 87), D Wright, B Waters (A Morgan-Smith, 80).
Unused Subs: C Kitscha, J Barthram, J Lymn, D Whitehead.
Attendance: 3316 (110).