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

PLYMOUTH’S hopes of equalling a club record were ended – and they were for­tu­nate to scrape a point against Hartle­pool United.

Af­ter seven suc­ces­sive wins, the Pil­grims aimed to match the class of 93 when Peter Shilton’s side recorded eight in a row.

They never looked like match­ing that achieve­ment and were sec­ond best for long pe­ri­ods against Pools, who ended the game with ten men af­ter Scott Har­ri­son was sent off in in­jury time and man­ager Craig Hignett was sent to the stands.

Hignett’s anger came was sparked by the per­for­mance of ref­eree Gavin Ward, the Pools boss fum­ing at the award of an 84th-minute penalty which gave the home side a lev­eller. Jake Jervis made no mis­take from the spot af­ter Toto Nsiala was pe­nalised for high feet.

Pil­grims boss Derek Adams was a re­lieved man and ad­mit­ted: “We played one ball in be­hind and get a penalty. Some­times you have to say – take a point and move on. We could have prob­a­bly won the game but did we de­serve to win the game? Prob­a­bly not.

“We started the game well and Hartle­pool were able to get their goal and sat back for the rest of the game. We didn’t use the ball well enough and didn’t move it quickly enough. We did well to get to 1-1 and it was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to get to 2-1. But we keep our un­beaten run.

“Hartle­pool worked hard and were good on the ball with­out cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.’’

Pools took the lead when Nathan Thomas, a for­mer Pil­grims winger, fired in a cross-cum-shot that de­ceived keeper Luke McCormick and sailed into the net.

The vis­i­tors con­trolled pos­ses­sion for long pe­ri­ods, with the home side fail­ing to make any in­roads on the vis­i­tors.

A free-kick from Gra­ham Carey which was saved by Trevor Car­son was their sole ef­fort in the open­ing half.

Pools were al­ways a threat on the counter at­tack, and with a bit more con­vic­tion in front of goal could have dou­bled their ad­van­tage.

They looked like see­ing the game out, be­fore ref­eree Ward be­came the cen­tre of at­ten­tion with the penalty and dis­missals as he lost con­trol.

Hignett said: “We de­fended re­ally well, done enough to see it out, but that was 15 min­utes I’ve never seen be­fore on a foot­ball field.

“It was fright­en­ing. I can say the ref­eree lost con­trol be­cause he did lose con­trol. I don’t know what he was book­ing play­ers for, I don’t know what the ex­pla­na­tions were, the penalty was laugh­able and Toto kicks the ball quite clearly.

“Ref­er­ees make a rod for their own backs and I don’t con­done play­ers go­ing for him at ev­ery de­ci­sion, but when it descends like that I

un­der­stand it.’’

PIC­TURES: Gra­ham Hunt/ProS­ports

EQUALISER: Jake Jervis lev­els from the spot

RE­TURN­ING HERO: Nathan Thomas grabs the opener for Hartle­pool

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