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League One

Hughes keeps calm amid 'fantastic' win

17 February 2013

Hartlepool moved off the bottom of the League One table with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Leyton Orient - but boss John Hughes admits the hard work is still to come.

Pools leapfrogged Portsmouth with two goals in the closing minutes to complete the turnaround at Victoria Park. Peter Hartley's late header had cancelled out Martin Rowland's seventh-minute penalty opener. Four minutes into injury time, substitute Luke James drilled in a low volley to make it five games without defeat for Pools.

"We scored in the 94th minute - fantastic. It was a fantastic strike on the half-volley and it's so nice to see if fly in," admitted Hughes. "I felt we deserved something and had them hemmed in. They would only get something on the counter-attack and we got plenty in the box.

"Fair play to the guys for the spirit. We don't get carried away, just enjoy the taste of winning. It keeps the run going and it's important we do that."

Pools have won four of their last nine games and sit eight points shy of League One safety. It is still a tall order, but one they are now relishing.

Hughes added: "It's so pleasing, the players have responded to the challenge ahead of us. All I keep saying is 'give yourself a chance'. We are off the bottom, there's some big games to come and we get carried away when we score, but it's nice so go and enjoy it."

Pools trailed when Neil Austin was ruled to have handballed in the area - the sixth spot-kick Pools have conceded in eight games. And some firm defensive work, with Scott Cuthbert outstanding at the heart of the back four for the O's, kept Pools at bay.

But the late turnaround - Hartley heading home an Evan Horwood corner and then James firing in after Steve Howard nodded down - stunned O's boss Russell Slade. "It's a disappointing changing room for sure, it was in our hands - we didn't deserve to lose," he said.

"We created chance after chance and paid the price for not taking them. We were one up and, if they were going to score it was a set-piece - they are hugely physical and we didn't deal with it.

"How did it happen? How do I know. We've not picked up, not marked. There's no easy way out of it. Hartlepool didn't deserve to win the football match."

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