Connor Hall's second-half header seperates the sides as the Valiants win in the north east
Our first visit to Hartlepool since 2008 and with a quick start we were looking to make it a positive trip. On nine minutes Mal Benning brilliantly intercepted a loose pass by the home side’s backline and found Jamie Proctor who had a crack inside the area but it was blocked. The ball found its way to Harry Charsley but his first-time effort flew wide of the post.
Hartlepool had little to play for but their performance didn’t show that. A minute later Tom Crawford answered the Valiants early effort with a shot of his own from outside the area but that too went wide.
The Monkey Hangers were on the front foot in the opening 20 minutes. Omar Bogle was next to challenge Aidan Stone but his effort went over the bar from outside the area. On 28 minutes Ryan Edmondson had the ball at his feet on the right flank and took on his man to produce a fantastic cross into the area which met the head of Ben Garrity but his header went over the bar.
Six minutes later Hartlepool won a freekick, 25-yards out. Bogle took the responsibility but his strike went way over Stone’s bar. Just before half time there was a scramble in the Hartlepool area with neither Garrity or Jamie Proctor able to get a shot away. The ball fell to Brad Walker on the edge of the box but his side-footed half volley went wide.
Straight from kick-off in the second half we almost took the lead. A header from a Hartlepool defender targeted at his own keeper Nicholas Bilokapic bounced past him and almost rolled over the line but Bilokapic got back to push it away. Minutes later Walker was close to putting us in the lead with a shot from outside the area, his effort went inches wide of the far top corner.
The Valiants continued to push for the opener and on 62 minutes we came close to doing just that. A sloppy pass from the Hartlepool midfield played in Proctor who unleashed a fierce strike on goal but Bilokapic was equal to it and parried the ball away. But five minutes later we got the goal we had been pushing for. A superb ball in from substitute Jake Taylor found Connor Hall at the back stick following a corner and he powered a header into the net to put us ahead.
After that goal, very little in terms of chances for either side as the game became scrappy but the Valiants did well to kill the game and set off back to Burslem with the three points.
Hartlepool United | Bilokapic, Sterry (85’ Fletcher), Byrne, Liddle, Hull, Ferguson, Shelton (73’ White), Crawford, Morris, Carver (81’ Molyneux), Bogle
Unused subs | Boyes, Ogle, M. Smith
Port Vale | Stone, N. Smith, Martin, Hall, Edmondson (70’ Hussey), Walker (55’ Taylor), Garrity, Charsley, Benning, Proctor, Wilson (79’ Harratt)
Unused subs | Holy, Robinson, Jones, Amoo