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