Hartlepool United: Ronnie Moore relieved after relegation escape

Ronnie Moore
Hartlepool have won nine out of 25 games since Ronnie Moore took over in December

Hartlepool manager Ronnie Moore admitted "the gods have smiled on us" after his side beat Exeter City to preserve their Football League status.

Goals by Scott Fenwick and Jordan Hugill earned Pools a 2-1 victory, as Moore's old club Tranmere dropped into the Conference with Cheltenham instead.

"A 2-0 lead is never comfortable for us, so 2-1 certainly wasn't comfortable," Moore told BBC Tees.

"That's been probably the longest 45 minutes of my life."

The 62-year-old took over at Victoria Park in December with Hartlepool bottom of League Two, having just been knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Blyth Spartans.

However, four successive wins in March paved the way for them to retain their place in League Two for another season.

Pools part of the Football League furniture
Excepting the Second World War, Hartlepool's unbroken membership of the Football League dates back almost 100 years to 1921, when they were first admitted to Division Three North.
Since the end of Divisions Three North & South in 1958 and the creation of the old Division Four, Pools have spent most of their time in the bottom tier.
They are one of only three Football League clubs, along with Accrington Stanley and Crawley Town, never to have played at Wembley.

Former Rotherham and Tranmere boss Moore hinted that at Christmas, he harboured doubts about their chances of escaping relegation.

"I had a word with Father Christmas and he promised that this might just happen," he joked. "But no, deep down you've got to say the right things and try and get the lads to believe in what's going on.

"When we had that little run, they started to realise this was on. The problem we had was that once we came out of the bottom two, we started to get very, very nervous."

There was confusion at the final whistle, as fans and players celebrated, even though Cheltenham's game against Shrewsbury had not finished.

"It could have been embarrassing, really," said Moore. "But it wasn't, luckily for us. The gods have smiled on us.

"We thought it was all over, everyone was saying it was done and dusted, but there were still two minutes to go in that game. Luckily for us, Cheltenham couldn't manage a goal."

Moore was sacked by Tranmere just over a year ago after admitting to breaking Football Association betting rules, but was given the chance to resume his career by Hartlepool, when he succeeded Paul Murray.

"I've enjoyed every minute I've been here, and I'm looking forward now to the challenge next year," Moore added.

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