Lincoln City 3 Hartlepool 0

Last updated : 04 March 2003 By Footymad Previewer

Lincoln pulled off a surprise victory over runaway Nationwide Division Three leaders Hartlepool to boost their chances of reaching the play-offs.

The Red Imps, who have now lost only once in 13 games, defended superbly against a Hartlepool team which at times threatened to take them apart.

But Lincoln somehow held out and hit back with three killer blows which left the visitors a well-beaten team.

Hartlepool looked in total control early on but Graeme Lee was denied by an excellent save from Alan Marriott and Darrell Clarke fired over from ten yards.

Lincoln went in front with their first attack of the game when the Hartlepool defence was caught out by a 44th minute free-kick.

Ben Futcher knocked the ball down and Allan Pearce marked his first league start by scoring with an overhead kick.

Futcher and Pearce both went close early in the second half but Hartlepool went on to waste a hatful of chances to draw level.

Eifion Williams was put clear but Marriott superbly smothered his shot. The Lincoln keeper made an excellent one-handed save to keep out a 66th minute header from Adam Boyd and seconds later Lee blasted a shot against the post.

Pool midfielder Mark Tinkler wasted two more good chances before former Sheffield Wednesday player Richie Humphreys blasted over from close range.

Lincoln broke out of defence eight minutes from time to double their lead with a stunning goal. Midfielder Peter Gain collected a pass in midfield before rounding four defenders in a 30-yard run before finishing with a shot into the bottom corner.

Hartlepool, who had not lost in their previous 11 games, cracked again in the 87th minute.

Mark Bailey forced his way down the right before sending over a cross which was knocked back in by Paul Smith leaving substitute Matthew Bloomer to net his first goal for Lincoln with a diving header.

Hartlepool still were creating chances deep into stoppage time and striker Williams wasted a glorious chance when he was put clear only to send his shot across the face of goal.