Last-gasp miss has Pools still on the up

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Thomas Han­nah

IN­JURY-TIME goals – and a last kick of the match miss – eased Hartle­pool United’s rel­e­ga­tion fears.

While York and Steve­nage both lost dra­mat­i­cally to Wim­ble­don and Northamp­ton re­spec­tively, Pools were tak­ing a point at Craw­ley.

But they too were so close to be­ing de­flated at the death. Craw­ley sub­sti­tute Gavin Tom­lin crossed from the left, and big cen­tre-half Sonny Bradley dropped to head the ball home. He was a cer­tain scorer, but some­how planted the chance wide.

Ref­eree David Coote im­me­di­ately blew for full­time and Pools es­caped, ex­tend­ing their ad­van­tage over se­cond-bot­tom York to nine points, with two games in hand and a far bet­ter goal dif­fer­ence.

Steve­nage are now two points be­hind Pools.

This was Pools’ se­cond 0-0 away draw of the week, af­ter a point at New­port.

The im­prove­ment un­der new boss Craig Hignett has been im­pres­sive and he said: “It’s been two tough away games, we showed first half here a lot and what a good team we are.

“We played good stuff, gave them a lot to think about.

“This was an­other clean sheet and a good de­fen­sive dis­play when we need it. Last header, they could have scored, so I’ll take a point, but the way we went about it se­cond half we could have won it.

“They put us un­der pres­sure last ten, we dug in and got a point. The ball came across and we thought, here we go. But the luck went our way and maybe it’s chang­ing.'”

Pools had the game’s only first-half chances, both com­ing when Nathan Thomas went close within a minute.

First he curled a shot wide from 20 yards, be­fore a se­cond shot from sim­i­lar range was de­flected wide.

He later saw a shot tipped onto the cross­bar by ‘keeper Paul Jones af­ter Jake Gray got the ball tan­gled be­tween his feet in the penalty area.

Craw­ley’s best chance – be­fore the last­gasp miss – came when debu­tant Liam McAlin­don broke from half­way and ‘keeper Trevor Car­son smartly saved.

Home boss Mark Yeates said: “It was a bit for­tu­itous at times, but maybe a point if a fair re­sult.

“It was tough first half, they had a cou­ple of de­cent strikes from out­side the box, but with­out test­ing the ‘keeper.

“I just wanted that bit ex­tra se­cond half, we had a bit more in the tank to give. They had chances se­cond-half, Jones made a save onto the bar and then we started im­pose our­selves in the game and we made sub­sti­tu­tions to do that.

“But it was tough out there, we want to dic­tate play and press the op­po­si­tion, but we couldn’t do that.’’


LL Hartlep


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