Crewe Alexandra were unable to halt the recent Hartlepool United revival as the hosts eventually ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Victoria Park.
On loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke gave them a lead before the half-hour and Jonathan Franks added another ahead of the break. Substitute Andy Monkhouse later netted an injury-time third.
Alex keeper Steve Phillips was forced into early action to deny Franks after Kelvin Mellor was unable to clear before opposite number Ross Flinders easily gathered from Chuks Aneke on the edge of the box.
Byron Moore also curled an effort behind for the visitors following earlier handball claims outside his area against the experienced Phillips. Jack Baldwin then struck wide for their opponents until Wyke opened the scoring when heading in Franks’ deep cross.
And the Alex fell into further arrears five minutes before the interval when skipper Luke Murphy conceded possession and Franks drove past Phillips from the edge of the area.
Home forward James Poole could have even added another prior to the break and also tested Phillips soon after the restart. Brad Inman then limped out of the action and was replaced by the visitors’ leading scorer Mathias Pogba.
But Hartlepool continued to appear the more likely to increase their advantage with Phillips keeping out both Wyke and Evan Horwood while Aneke headed a Murphy corner wide at the other end.
Gregor Robertson also saw an effort deflected behind after Franks had already struck narrowly off-target for the home side, who still added a third goal in added time when Monkhouse fired in after the ball wasn’t properly cleared.
Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Horwood, Baldwin, Hartley, Humphreys, Franks, Walton (Monkhouse 28), Poole (Luscombe 82), Wyke
subs (unused): McHugh, Holden, Rutherford, James, Howard
Goals: Wyke (27), Franks (40), Monkhouse (90)
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Mellor, Ellis, Dugdale, Robertson, Murphy, Osman, Aneke (M. Clayton 72), Inman (Pogba 50), Leitch-Smith (Colclough 80), Moore
subs (unused): Martin, Tootle, Davis, Turton
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