Pool one point away
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Victoria Park side could have secured their status in the higher reaches had Bournemouth slipped up against Southend, however a solitary Stephen Purches strike earned The Cherries the points.
Former Leeds midfielder Mark Tinkler got Hartlepool off to the perfect start with a goal after 10 minutes, but the home side had to wait until the hour mark before doubling their advantage through Graeme Lee.
Greg Heald put the celebrations on ice when he pulled one back seconds later, however further goals from Tinkler and Darrell Clarke made sure the points went to Mike Newell's men.
Rushden remain just a point behind the leaders after a solitary Onandi Lowe goal on 18 minutes handed Diamonds all three points against The Red Imps at Nene Park.
Wrexham remain in pole position for the third automatic promotion place following a dramatic last-gasp win at The Racecourse Ground against Bristol Rovers.
Goals from Scott Green and Andy Morrell had the home side in control, before Welsh striker Chris Llewellyn pulled a goal back just before the break.
Llewellyn then bagged his second of the game with 18 minutes remaining to stun the home faithful, though Carlos Edwards popped up in the dying moments to nick the points for The Red Dragons.
Torquay dropped two points in their bid for promotion after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Macclesfield Town.
John Miles and Kyle Lightbourne cancelled out Jo Kuffour's early goal, though Martin Gritton rescued a points for The Gulls with a second half effort.
Oxford cemented their play-off hopes with a late 2-1 victory over Kidderminster Harriers at the Kassam Stadium.
Paul McCarthy had the home side ahead on 38 minutes, though Bo Henriksen levelled matters just before the half-time interval.
With both sides set to bag a point-a-piece former West Ham ace Manny Omoyinmi cropped up with minutes to go to score a priceless winner.
York's promotion hopes suffered a blow after being held to a 2-2 draw at Bootham Crescent.
Paul Connor silenced the home crowd three minutes in, though Keith Grayon had The Minstermen back on level terms from the penalty spot after 35 minutes.
Darren Edmondson put City in front for the first time just after the hour mark, though the drama was not over as there was still time for Lee McEvilly to earn the visitors a point.
At the foot of the table Exeter City remain rooted to the bottom following a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at the hands of Cambridge United.
An early own goal from Ezomo Iriekpen had The Grecians ahead, before second half goals from Paul Wanless and John Turner sent the struggling side to their 20th defeat of the season.
Carlisle moved above Shrewsbury after Richie Foran's late goal cancelled out David Nugent's opener and earned them a priceless point at Bury.
The Shrews, meanwhile, were on the wrong end of a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Darlington. Barry Conlon was the hero netting his 15th and 16th goals of the season in the clash.
Ashley Nicholls, Neil Maddison and Gary Pearson were the other scorers for Darlo, whilst Ryan Lowe achieved the only bright spark of the day for the visitors with a goal after 53 minutes.
Swansea boosted their survival prospects with a crucial 1-0 home win over Scunthorpe. Marc Richards was the hero for The Swans with a goal on 14 minutes.
Boston United remain perilously close to the drop zone after a late home defeat to Hull City. Despite a valiant effort from the home side Stuart Elliott's 73rd minute strike condemned them to another loss.
Click here for Division Three summaries:
Boston United 0-1 Hull City
Bournemouth 1-0 Southend United
Bury 1-1 Carlisle United
Cambridge United 2-1 Exeter City
Darlington 5-1 Shrewsbury Town
Hartlepool United 4-1 Leyton Orient
Oxford United 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers
Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 Lincoln City
Swansea City 1-0 Scunthorpe United
Torquay United 2-2 Macclesfield Town
Wrexham 3-2 Bristol Rovers
York City 2-2 Rochdale
Click here for the Third Division table.