Southend boosted their automatic promotion hopes with a 1-0 win over in-form League Two strugglers Hartlepool.Will Atkinson grabbed the only goal at Victoria Park to inflict a first defeat in six on Pools, who remained above the drop zone thanks to defeats for Tranmere and Cheltenham. The visitors should have opened the scoring after just five minutes but, having broken through on goal, Barry Corr could only place his shot wide. The remainder of the half saw the sides share possession and, with long-range efforts the order of the day, Hartlepool's Marlon Harewood - who came on as a sixth-minute substitute after Jordan Hugill suffered a head injury - was the only player to test either goalkeeper. The visitors went ahead in the 53rd minute, albeit against the run of play, when winger Atkinson fired a powerful effort past Scott Flinders following a penalty-box scramble. The ground erupted 10 minutes later when Dan Jones' powerful volley ricocheted off the underside of the bar, but the linesman was not convinced it had then crossed the line. Pools continued to pile forward valiantly, yet their efforts proved in vain as Phil Brown's men kept up the pressure on the top three.