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Colchester United 3 Hartlepool United 1
HARTLEPOOL United were dumped into the bottom four in League One following another away defeat.
They were thumped 3-1 at Colchester – who moved out of the drop zone in the process – after another defensively weak display.
Pools have now shipped 11 goals in four away games this season and the back four, so often the strong point of their team in recent seasons, is now proving the opposite.
An early goal from Craig Lynch, the winger on loan from Sunderland, got Pools off to a cracking start.
He intercepted a pass, moved into the area, and curled a shot around keeper Mark Cousins for his first professional goal.
Antony Sweeney then had a header cleared off the line.
Scott Flinders saved well from Anthony Wordsworth on 31 minutes, but was soon beaten.
A slide rule pass from the impressive Craig Eastman, making his debut after signing on loan from Arsenal, cut through the middle of the static back four and Gavin Massey slotted in.
Pools have a habit of conceding goals in quick succession and they did it again – this time Hartley’s woeful attempt at heading the ball back to his keeper fell far too short and Jabo Ibehre took advantage.
At the start of the second half there was no response and Scott Flinders had to make three saves to keep Pools in it.
But a cross from the left was left by both Collins and Hartley and Ibehre skirted around the keeper to score and give newly-installed home boss Joe Dunne a winning start.
It doesn’t get any easier for Pools with Danny Wilson’s Sheffield United visiting Victoria Park on Tuesday.
COLCHESTER: Cousins, Rose, Okuonghae, Eastman, Wilson; Eastman, Wordsworth, Bean; Watt (Henderson 81), Ibehre (Izzet 90), Massey (Sears 81). Subs: Pentney (gk), Morrison, White, Duguid.
HARTLEPOOL: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Franks, Baldwin, Murray (Poole 68), Sweeney, Lynch (Monkhouse 57); Howard. Subs: Humphreys, Poole, Richards, Holden, McHugh (gk), James.