Back with a bang

Part 2

But he would have been slightly disturbed by Halifax’s late surge towards the end of the half.

And he knew from previous experience that the Seasiders needed a second before anyone could start thinking of three points.

McMahon made three changes from the starting line-up at Exeter. One was enforced – Brian Reid’s absence, starting his three-match ban, meant Danny Shittu coming back in central defence where he ended at St James’ Park.

The other two new starters saw returns after long absences for Pool’s homegrown favourites Hills and Phil Clarkson.

It was Hills’ first start since pulling his hamstring on his comeback at Brighton in February.

And for Clarkson it was his first start since Pool’s 1-0 win at Hull in mid-January, since when he has been ever-present on the bench.

It was no surprise when McMahon made another change at the interval. Ormerod, whose pace would surely cause Halifax’s defenders problems on the slippery surface, came on to replace Walker, who was suffering a groin strain.

But sadly for Pool, the all-important action at the beginning of the second half was at the wrong end of the pitch.

Kerrigan’s decoy run allowed Mark Jules the time and space just outside the left edge of the area to try his luck with a low shot.

He curled it between Danny Coid and Gary Parkinson on the edge of the box, and it went in off Phil Barnes’ far post to give the Shaymen a priceless equaliser.

The Seasiders were shell-shocked. And just like Halifax after they conceded, Pool went through a rocky patch immediately after the goal.

But roared on by a vast travelling army of 1,235 Pool fans, they came back into it and on 64 minutes thought they’d gone in front again.

It was a lovely move. Wellens threaded it through to Simpson on the edge of the area.

He showed great awareness to ship it on to Clarkson, who was free on the left just inside the box.

Clarkson made the sweetest of contacts to rifle the ball goalwards only to see defender Matt Clarke slide back with a goal-saving block.

Two minutes later and twice Pool came close, the first from a beautifully constructed move.

Wellens played a peach of a ball out of defence to Simpson on the left. And Clarkson and Murphy were both involved before Coid whipped in a dangerous cross from the right, which no-one could get on the end of.

Within a minute, Simpson and Hills had opened up Halifax down the left, the latter’s cross met by Ormerod’s header which was destined to fly back across keeper Mawson into the top left hand corner until he plucked it out of the air.

Ormerod went even closer on 75 minutes, his cross-cum-shot from the left looping over Mawson but hitting the top of the bar.

The game was wide open now, and save for the odd lapse it was Pool who were doing all the pressing.

But time and again, even though they were breaking from midfield and outnumbering the defence, Pool weren’t making the most of their chances.

With 14 minutes left Simpson and Ormerod worked an opening, but from the right edge of the area Simpson, under pressure from a covering defender, fluffed his shot.

Four minutes later, Hills made inroads down the left and crossed into the middle, but instead of shooting Clarkson tried to lay it back. The ball got stuck in the mud and Halifax cleared.

But with just six minutes to go Clarkson became the hero by slotting an acute angle winner, his first goal for almost three months.

Coid started it with a ball up to Ormerod on the right edge of the box. When he slid it across goal, John Murphy was clearly shoved out of the way as he looked favourite to convert the cross.

Incredibly referee Pearson took no action … but he didn’t need to. Clarkson was there at the far post to turn the ball back across goal from the tightest of angles.

Backtracking defender Jules tried to keep it out, but although he managed to hook the ball clear the linesman on the far side signalled immediately that the ball had crossed the line. Clarkson was engulfed in front of the ecstatic Pool fans.

But the drama didn’t end there. In the 86th minute, Halifax twice thought they’d got a second leveller only to be kept out by last-ditch stops by Barnes and Hills.

Blackpool were back in numbers as Halifax threw everything at them. And when the ball broke to Proctor only four yards out, his shot was superbly blocked by Barnes and Hills cleared Paul Mitchell’s follow-up off the line.