A frus­trat­ing time for fans – and play­ers HARTLEPOOL 1 EASTLEIGH 1

Sunday Sun - - Football -

THERE’S no doubt about the over­rid­ing feel­ing around Hartlepool United at the mo­ment: frus­tra­tion.

A home draw with Eastleigh means Pools have drawn three games on home turf this season.

Six points dropped, six points which should have been bagged and would have had Matthew Bates’ side sit­ting atop the Na­tional League ta­ble.

Pools are com­pet­i­tive, good to watch and much im­proved on last season.

But home form has to be bet­ter, or at least re­sults do.

Eastleigh ar­rived at the Su­per 6 Sta­dium with­out a goal in four games.

So they switched for­ma­tion to a five-man de­fence, with three cen­tral mid­field­ers tucked in to help out.

Frus­trat­ing Pools was the aim of their game and, as the away side, Eastleigh did an ideal job.

Pools led through Niko Muir’s tap in, couldn’t find a sec­ond and con­ceded a 71stminute lev­eller.

Credit to Bates’ side that they didn’t let the lev­eller af­fect them and they pressed for a win­ner, go­ing close on three oc­ca­sions – but it wouldn’t ar­rive.

Scott Loach made a low save to pre­vent Pools go­ing be­hind early, de­spite a pos­i­tive open­ing from the home side.

Oliver Den­nett met a cross from Os­car Gobern and the keeper stopped it low.

Pools con­trolled pos­ses­sion, but found it hard to break through.

Top scorer Liam No­ble burst onto the ball from mid­field and his shot was kept out by keeper Graham Stack.

He su­perbly ex­tended a hand out to deny the five-goal mid­fielder.

A minute later, how­ever, Pools scored af­ter they kept the mo­men­tum go­ing.

Ryan Don­ald­son, who later went off with a wor­ry­ing ham­string in­jury, crossed from the right and picked out Niko Muir who net­ted from close range.

The vis­i­tors though started the sec­ond half with in­tent fol­low­ing some no doubt harsh words at the break.

Loach spilled a free-kick from Mark Yeates and from the cor­ner, Den­nett looked a cer­tain scorer be­fore Loach flung him­self in the way of the ball.

Eastleigh got their equaliser on 71 min­utes though. Joe Jones broke for­ward from his de­fen­sive shack­les and was blocked on the edge of the area by Carl Mag­nay.

Wing-back Josh Hare col­lect- ed the ball wide, and his cross was hung up for Paul McCal­lum to rise high­est in the area and deftly nod in to level the scores.

Pools, to their re­sponded pos­i­tively.

Stack was re­quired to make a fin­ger­tip save to deny a ris­ing No­ble shot.

Mark Kitch­ing met a cross from the right, and the Pools’ wing-back floated a header wide of the far post.

How­ever, Pools weren’t able to find a much-needed sec­ond goal.

Af­ter­wards, Pools boss Bates admit­ted: “I felt we were un­lucky not to win.

“First half, I keep say­ing it, we should have had them dead and buried.

“I was dis­ap­pointed sec­ond half as we never re­ally got go­ing – un­til they equalised.

“Liam had chances, he could have had a few.

“The shots were a good height for the keeper, who made some good saves – but what went on at half-time?” credit,

CHAR­LIE WAUGH

Gateshead keeper Ayns­ley Pears, on loan from Mid­dles­brough, is pow­er­less to pre­vent Joev El­lul’s header find­ing the net

CHARLES WAUGH

Steven Rigg goes close with a header dur­ing Gateshead’s 1-0 de­feat against Brain­tee Town

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