Keeper Loach Pools’ saviour in Bore draw B’HAM WOOD 0 HARTLE­POOL 0

Sunday Sun - - Football -

PER­HAPS Craig Har­ri­son wanted to mark his 40th birth­day a lit­tle bet­ter, but the Pools boss was sat­is­fied as he reached a per­sonal land­mark.

The Gateshead-born for­mer Boro de­fender turned 40 on Fri­day and yes­ter­day saw his Pools side play out a rather tame 0-0 draw.

It means Pools are still un­beaten away from home in the Na­tional League since Au­gust and they have lost only once in 12 games

But would a lit­tle bit more am­bi­tion see them push on and head back up the M1 last night with three points rather than one?

Pools re­main in mid-ta­ble, still look­ing at the play-off zone from the out­side when they could and really should be right in the mix.

They now have back-to-back home games to come against Alder­shot and Hal­i­fax and they could do with six points to prove they mean busi­ness.

In Hert­ford­shire yes­ter­day they were – once again – in­debted to goal­keeper Scott Loach.

He pulled off a sec­ond-half penalty save to keep the score level.

Har­ri­son said: “A point was the min­i­mum I wanted be­fore we came here – I’m dis­ap­pointed we didn’t win the game, but an­other point is good. I’m adamant ev­ery point is wor­thy.

“A clean sheet is a bonus too and we are thank­ful to Scott Loach for it. We went to win it as the game went on, it was there for us, and we had four strik­ers on the pitch at the end.

“We gained a bit of mo­men­tum from Scott’s penalty save and didn’t take ad­van­tage of it.’

Har­ri­son will be pleased with a clean sheet af­ter be­ing forced to field a new-look de­fence. With Liam Don­nelly away on North­ern Ire­land un­der-21 duty and three other reg­u­lars side­lined through in­jury, the back line was some­what in­ex­pe­ri­enced.

Louis Laing had a poor game in the FA Cup de­feat at More­cambe the week be­fore, and had to step up his game this week.

The home side’s lead­ing scorer, Bruno An­drade, was de­nied by Loach from dis­tance. And he again had a pop from out­side the penalty area, but Loach wasn’t trou­bled.

Striker Rhys Oates got Pools on the front foot, cut­ting in­side from the right and send­ing a whipped shot wide of the far post.

De­vante Rod­ney was back in the side and he drove into space down the right. His low cross found Jon Franks, who turned and his shot was charged down.

Only three min­utes into the sec­ond half and Pools were up against it as Scott Har­ri­son – re­called to the back four due to a lack of num­bers – chal­lenged Blair Tur­gott in the area and ref­eree Simeon Lu­cas awarded a penalty.

Loach has been out­stand­ing this sea­son since his sum­mer trans­fer and got to his left to deny An­drade.

Pools re­sponded as Luke George found Rod­ney, who drove past his man and rolled the ball across goal with­out any blue shirt able to meet it.

Once again Loach stood firm, this time An­drade burst clear of Laing on the left and the keeper saved. The home crowd started to cel­e­brate as An­drade looked cer­tain to net the re­bound, but some­how put it wide.

Pools were backed by 289 fans and Har­ri­son saluted the trav­el­ling sup­port.

“We had a third of the crowd here to­day, we have to make sure they get as much praise as the play­ers,” he said.

“They have been fan­tas­tic trav­el­ling all over the coun­try and the play­ers ap­pre­ci­ate it.

“Come the end of the sea­son they will have got us 10-15 points through their loy­alty and we all ap­pre­ci­ate it im­mensely.’’

THOMAS LANG

Gateshead striker Danny John­son cel­e­brates his goal in the 3-0 Na­tional League win at Maidenhead

THOMAS LANG

Jor­dan Bur­row con­tests a high ball

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