ALAN LEE stepped off the bench to seal a vital victory.
Just 15 minutes of a tense clash at the Galpharm remained when the Irishman notched his seventh goal of the season with a neat piece of control and clinical low shot.
And while the win was on the scrappy side, it was just what was needed to rekindle Town’s League I promotion push after successive draws on the road.
Town boss Simon Grayson made just one change as his side strove to bounce back after letting slip a three-goal lead in Saturday’s draw at Bury.
Calum Woods came in for Gary Naysmith at left-back, meaning Antony Kay, who retained his central midfield berth, took the captain’s armband.
There was a 100th Town appearance for striker Lee Novak and a 50th start for the club for centre-back Jamie McCombe.
Damien Johnson was on the bench – the former Northern Ireland midfielder’s first inclusion in the 16 since Grayson took over.
Hartlepool, looking to strengthen their play-off push, were skippered by former Town centre-back Sam Collins.
With the visitors stringing five men across the middle, Town had the better of the opening exchanges, and Jordan Rhodes brought a good save from Scott Flinders with a firm header from Scott Arfield’s fourth-minute cross.
Former Barnsley man Flinders was in the action again in the 12th minute, arching to deny Kay as he flung out a leg and caught Danny Ward’s cross with the back of his heel.
When the resultant corner was only partially cleared and the ball worked back to Ward on the left, the wide man unleashed a stinging low shot which Flinders blocked at the near post.
At the other end, Sean Morrison was quick to throw himself in the way of Ritchie Humphreys’ snap shot as Hartlepool mounted a rare attack.
Woods was on hand to cut out Antony Sweeney’s dangerous cross as the North-Easterners raided down the left before Novak was narrowly wide with a flicked header from another Ward delivery on 29 minutes.
A handball by Hartlepool on the Town right gave Ward the chance to thump in a venomous free-kick which was diverted for a corner by Andy Monkhouse, but once again, the flag kick was defended.