Notts. County 1 Hartlepool United 0

Back-to-back wins for Notts County for the first time this season - and both of them with clean sheets - lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Notts were good value for their latest success against a battling, defensive-minded Hartlepool United without ever being at their best.

Some players seemed to be suffering from a hangover following their exertions at Chelsea in the Carling Cup and manager Bill Dearden afterwards paid tribute to the fans for the way they had raised the team.

Scoring opportunities were so few in the first 45 minutes that it was no surprise it should end scoreless and be noted chiefly for referee Paul Danson awarding 16 free-kicks.

This certainly didn't help the play to develop a rhythm and the same was true of the second period when a further 14 free-kicks piled up.

But in that half Notts gradually got on top and the winning goal, which came just after the hour mark, was Simon Baldry's first in the league for Notts since his arrival in the close season.

When Hartlepool's resolute defenders failed to clear a corner properly the ball fell to Baldry 20 yards out and he whacked it inside the left-hand post.

Baldry miscued with a later chance while the most incredible miss was committed by substitute Kevin Nicholson shortly after he was brought off the bench.

Ian Baraclough went surging through the middle and could have scored himself but gave the ball to Nicholson three yards out in front of an open goal - but he turned it wide, to the stunned crowd's amazement.

With Paul Robinson and Marco Gabbiadini coming off the bench to give Hartlepool greater thrust Notts were left hanging on for their three points.

In fact Gabbiadini's only noteworthy contribution was a foul on Ian Richardson which earned him a late booking, while Robinson did better when flashing a late drive just wide.