FOR Hartlepool United, the agony was evident last night. They pushed promotion-chasing Huddersfield Town all the way but fell to a 1-0 loss.
The result, however undeserved, gave new home boss Simon Grayson his first win at the helm.
A goal of some quality by Alan Lee proved the difference, but the home side hung on to the points for dear life at the end.
Pool were the better team for long periods, even if Scott Flinders made two exceptional first-half saves to keep the home side out.
Four minutes in and he made his first stop. Danny Ward tore down the left, got space on Neil Austin and crossed into the area.
The pinpoint ball was straight on to the head of Jordan Rhodes and the striker’s 31st goal of the season looked on the cards as he nodded at goal from six yards.
However, Flinders leaped in his way, spread himself and got enough on the ball to keep it out, with the defence mopping up.
If his first stop was good, his second was sublime.
Antony Kay curled a shot towards goal from the left side, a deflection off Scott Arfield lifted it further towards the top corner.
Somehow Flinders flung himself across goal and kept it out.
Pool then created their best first-half opening.
James Poole went past Callum Woods on the flank and pushed the ball into the area towards Andy Monkhouse, McCombe blocked and as the loose ball fell at Ritchie Humphreys’ feet his crisp strike was blocked by Sean Morrison.
Pool took off the returning and tiring James Poole at the break, replaced by James Brown.
The second period took some time to get going.
For Pools, Collins played the ball in between the defenders for Antony Sweeney who latched on to it and took it on the volley and his angled shot was only kept out by Smithies.
The breakthrough came on 75 minutes, courtesy of Town’s second substitute.
Lee took the ball down on the edge of the area and picked his spot, rolling his shot low into the bottom corner, past the stretching Flinders.
A deserved leveller for Pool almost arrived on 85 minutes.
Monkhouse took possession deep, charged forward and unleashed a strike from distance. Smithies was beaten, but the ball crashed back off the post.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN: Smithies; Hunt, Woods, McCombe, Morrison; Ward (Johnson 86), Arfield (Roberts 62), Kay, Gudjonsson; Novak (Lee 62), Rhodes.
Not used: Bennett (gk), Naysmith.
Goal: Lee (75)
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Murray (Boyd 79), Sweeney, Baldwin; Monkhouse, Poole, Humphreys (Nish 79). Subs not used: Haslam, Rafferty (gk)
Booking: Baldwin (61, foul). Ref: Paul Tierney (Wigan)