Hartlepool United 0 Portsmouth 0

HARTLEPOOL United failed to lift themselves off the foot of League One, as they played out a frustrating goalless draw with Portsmouth.

HARTLEPOOL United failed to lift themselves off the foot of League One, as they played out a frustrating goalless draw with Portsmouth.

It’s now four games without defeat for John Hughes’ side, but they will see this as a missed chance to leapfrog the troubled visitors.

Pool had all the possession and the majority of chances, but some well-drilled defensive work from the visitors kept them at arms’ length.

For Pompey the point ended a run of nine successive defeats and was only their fourth point from a possible 60.

Pool beat Pompey at Fratton Park a little over two weeks ago.

And, wary of that result, the visitors were more than willing to sit bodies in behind the ball and pack their rearguard.

The tactic certainly worked in the first-half, as the home side were restricted to a handful of openings.

And it was Pompey who went close first when Adam Reed, Hartlepool-born and on loan from Sunderland, drove a low shot across the face of goal from an angle on the right.

Pool’s busiest player by some stretch was James Poole, again one of a front three. He was willing to run at the visitors from deep and after his positive charge forward earned a corner, Pool had their first big opening.

Evan Horwood’s dead ball was met by Ritchie Humphreys, but he screwed a header wide.

At the other end, some strong defending from Peter Hartley, who dived in front of a fierce James Wallace shot, kept the danger at bay.

On 41 minutes, Pool had their first real opening on goal.

Some honest work from Neil Austin saw the right back win possession and feed Poole. His low ball into Charlie Wyke fed the striker to shoot low, but keeper Simon Eastwood wasn’t overly troubled in saving.

Just before the hour mark, after a rather flat start to the half, Austin fed Franks and his cross was whipped into the area, but was just too high for Poole.

At least the chance lifted the crowd and gave them some much-needed encouragement. Pool then introduced Andy Monkhouse, the substitute who earned a point at Swindon with his goal on Saturday, in place of Humphreys.

Some neat footwork on the edge of the area from Jack Baldwin opened up for a shooting chance and his effort was deflected into goalkeeper Eastwood.

A rampaging run from Baldwin opened up the Pompey defence and he fired just wide of the far post.

The teenager was the game’s outstanding performer and he flashed a low 20-yard shot wide of the post.

Pool knew the importance of victory and moving off the bottom and had plenty of pressure as they penned the visitors back for most of the half, with Pompey playing on the counter attack.

Poole took a pass from Luke James, his shot was blocked and he lifted the follow up over.

Deep into injury time, an Austin cross hit a Pompey arm in the area, but referee Darren Bond ignored the big appeal.

HARTLEPOOL: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Walton, Baldwin, Humphreys (Monkhouse 64); Franks (James 76), Poole, Wyke. Subs (not used): McHugh (gk), Monkhouse, Luscombe, Rutherford, Richards, Holden.

PORTSMOUTH: Eastwood; Cooper, Sodje, Rocha, Butler; Reed, Ertl, Racon Keene; Wallace; Agyemang (Akinde 73). Subs (not used): Smith, Walker, Harris, Webster, Gyepes.

Bookings: Wallace, Ertl, Sodje

Referee: Darren Bond (Burscough)

Attendance: 3,526


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer