SHAY McCartan came in from the cold to fire the Reds back to winning ways on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old forward has been a bit-part player since arriving from Burnley before the start of last season.
But having impressed new boss John Coleman in the Lancashire Senior Cup defeat by Manchester United and the recent friendly against Sligo Rovers, he was handed his first start of the season against Hartlepool.
The bitterly cold conditions kept many Stanley fans away but McCartan turned in a performance which warmed the cockles of those supporters that did brave the elements.
The Northern Ireland Under-21 international was the only change after Saturday’s defeat at Stevenage, coming in for Nicky Hunt after the full-back complained of chest pains.
And he took his chance by claiming a brace, opening the scoring with a superb solo effort in the 19th minute while his second goal was a predatory finish which sealed victory in the 78th minute.
Matthew Bates had equalised three minutes before the break for Pools, only for Rob Atkinson to head Stanley back in front in first-half stoppage time.
“Shay worked hard in the last three or four weeks to make that opportunity happen,” said Coleman. “I’ve been having constant pep talks with him and said it’d only be a matter of time before he got on the pitch.
“Anybody who was at the United or Sligo games wouldn’t have been surprised by the goals he scored tonight.”
With Hunt joining fellow defenders Adam Buxton and Michael Liddle on the sidelines, Coleman was forced to reshuffle his back-line.
Dean Winnard came across to right-back with Lee Molynuex dropping to left-back but, naturally, he was looking to get forward at every opportunity.
One of those was an early free-kick on the right and Molyneux’s inswinging delivery tested visiting keeper Scott Flinders.
Hartlepool then had a sight of goal as Tommy Miller fed Michael Duckworth on the right and the full-back cut in before firing just wide from 20 yards.
Pools failed to build on that as Sean Maguire pounced on a poor clearance to release James Gray and although he drove the ball just wide of the far post, it served to rouse a sparse home crowd.
Molyneux then intercepted a Hartlepool pass in their own half and Maguire exchanged passes with Gray before having a shot blocked. Maguire then hit the loose ball too close to Flinders.
But Stanley kept the pressure on and were rewarded through McCartan’s opener. His first Stanley goal came at York towards the end of last season - a header from a matter of inches. His second could barely have been more different.
He picked the ball up in the centre of the Hartlepool half and, buoyed by his hat-trick against Sligo, he took on the visiting defence.
McCartan burst past one challenge, then another, and having got himself into the Pools box, he showed the composure to steady himself before lofting the ball beyond Flinders’ dive and inside the far post.
McCartan showed more neat footwork to beat two defenders as Stanley remained on top, but Pools replied with Michael Woods playing a one-two with Charlie Wyke and poking the ball goalwards, only for Jesse Joronen to tip it over.
Ryan Brobbel saw a long-range effort deflected wide but he then delivered an inswinging free-kick from the left and midfielder Bates equalised with a glancing header.
Both sides looked to grab another before the break and it was Stanley who claimed a crucial half-time advantage.
John O’Sullivan delivered a corner from the left and Atkinson rose highest to head home from eight yards.
Early in the second half, O’Sullivan worked some space on the right and fired just wide of the far post, while Pools brought on new loan signing Matt Crooks for Wyke up front.
The youngster played at centre-half for Huddersfield on the opening day and it showed as he failed to get a shot away after bringing the ball down in the Stanley box. Brobbel couldn’t poke the loose ball goalwards before Joronen gathered.
Duckworth then found Crooks unmarked just inside the box and despite having time to take a touch and pick his spot, he tried to chip Joronen and almost sent the ball over the Clayton End.
Stanley then cleared a corner, which was turned back into the box, and although Lewis Hawkins beat Joronen to the ball, he was stretching and could only poke it wide.
Anthony Barry came on for Maguire, with midfielder Luke Joyce dropping to right-back and Winnard switching back to left-back. That allowed Molyneux to move forward and moments later he saw a fierce strike blocked.
Pools still threatened, though, as Atkinson had to pull off a last-ditch tackle to deny Scott Harrison while Connor Smith dragged a tame effort straight at Joronen.
But after Barry’s shot was saved he played a part in a well-worked move which found O’Sullivan on the right. The Blackburn loanee, who extended his Stanley stay on Monday, put in a low cross and although it was partially blocked, McCartan was on hand to force it home from close range.
That secured the three points but the Reds were determined to limit the visitors to one goal, with Joyce blocking a Woods free-kick before Tom Aldred’s tackle prevented Jonathan Franks turning in Crooks’ late cross.
STANLEY: Joronen 8, Winnard 7, Aldred 8, Atkinson 8, Molyneux 7, O’Sullivan 8, Joyce 8, Procter 7, McCartan 9 (Hatfield 80), Maguire 7 (Barry 63, 7), Gray 7 (Carver 74, 7). Subs: Bowerman, Mingoia, Windass, Simpson. Attendance: 947 (109 away).