POOLS SUR­VIVE AN­OTHER WEEK AT BOT­TOM

TRAN­MERE......0 HARTLE­POOL ..1 De­feat leaves Rovers’ play-off bid in ru­ins

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Robert Do­man

RON­NIE Moore ad­mit­ted he is sift­ing through the wreck­age of his Tran­mere team af­ter Neil Austin threw Hartle­pool a pre­cious life­line in a tale of two penal­ties at Pren­ton Park.

Austin put away the re­bound to nab a vi­tal three points af­ter Simon Wal­ton had seen a con­tentious penalty saved be­fore Scott Flin­ders de­nied Andy Robin­son the chance to square mat­ters from the spot at the other end.

The re­sult leaves Rovers’ play-off hopes hang­ing by a thread with the pre­vi­ously dom­i­nant league lead­ers hav­ing failed to score in seven of their last nine games to sit ninth.

Hartle­pool live to fight an­other day de­spite hov­er­ing dan­ger­ously over the League One trap door – they are five points shy of safety with only six to play for.

“It hurts,” Moore said. “I am an­gry be­cause I can see what we have thrown away.”

“We are a wreck as a team right now com­pared to the flu­ency we showed ear­lier in the sea­son.We went out of the game with a whim­per and it has to mean more to the play­ers.

“We are play­ing like we are a bot­tom four team. The penalty given to Hartle­pool was a ridicu­lous de­ci­sion.

“Our penalty came at the right time but the save just about summed up our last two months. I don’t know where our next goal is coming from.”

Tran­mere’s tem­per­a­ture was raised when ref­eree Lee Collins pointed to the spot af­ter rul­ing that Ben Gib­son had held Sam Collins in the box.

Rovers fans thought jus­tice had been done when Owain Fon Wil­liams kept out Simon Wal­ton’s re­sult­ing spot-kick but Austin pounced to slide home the re­bound ten min­utes in.

Andy Robin­son al­most pro­duced a 37th minute equaliser when he tricked his way be­yond two United de­fend­ers be­fore strik­ing the out­side of the post.

And he suf­fered a sim­i­lar ag­o­nis­ing fate when Rovers were awarded a penalty of their own 12 min­utes af­ter the break with Scott Flin­ders su­perbly tip­ping his ef­fort onto the cross­bar af­ter Peter Hart­ley was judged to have felled Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro.

Tran­mere sub­sti­tute Cole Stock­ton flashed a 73rd minute shot over the bar af­ter en­ter­ing the fray. But that was to be as close as Rovers came to fash­ion­ing any­thing from the game as Akpa-Akpro’s wildly struck free-kick just about sum­ming up Tran­mere’s day late on amid a cho­rus of boos at the fi­nal whis­tle.

Hartle­pool man­ager John Hughes said:“It was a great win in terms of ef­fort and com­mit­ment. It was a rear­guard ac­tion but the penalty gave us some­thing to hang onto and we cer­tainly did that. There were eleven heroes on the pitch plus the sub­sti­tutes and we were just happy to see the ball hit the back of the net.

“There was plenty of pride ev­i­dent in our per­for­mance and it was such a cru­cial game.We showed courage and we had to want it more – it was crit­i­cal. We can play bet­ter foot­ball but it was a must win cup fi­nal if you like.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

DE­CIDER: Neil Austin, left, cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the win­ner for Hartle­pool with Andy Monkhouse

ON HAND: Tran­mere’s Owain Fon Wil­liams saves Simon Wal­ton’s penalty

LUKE JAMES

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