Hartlepool United 0 Accrington Stanley 0: Pool pleased with point after back-to-back defeats away

Hartlepool United's little stutter continued tonight when Accrington Stanley prevented Colin Cooper's men from closing in on the play-off places

Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper
Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper

Hartlepool United's little stutter continued tonight when Accrington Stanley prevented Colin Cooper's men from closing in on the play-off places.

After back-to-back defeats away from home in League Two, Pool did at least stop the rot by claiming a point in their pursuit of the top seven at the Store First Stadium.

But Accrington were the more convincing of the two sides and will count themselves unlucky not to have given their fight to beat relegation to the Conference a further boost.

Hartlepool just never got going after a relatively bright start and the closest they came to scoring was a late header from Andy Monkhouse.

Stanley's unlikely victory over leaders Chesterfield on Saturday tightened things up in League Two again. Only five points separated them in 22nd spot from Hartlepool in tenth beforehand.

And after away day defeats to Wycombe and Northampton, Colin Cooper was well aware of the need to avoid a third if his side were to keep the pressure on the play-off zone.

In the hope of doing just that there was a change to the forward line, with the experienced former Newcastle forward Marlon Harewood rested and the more mobile Jonathan Franks partnering Luke James in attack.

Hartlepool made an encouraging start. After forcing a couple of early corners, Simon Walton had the first shot of the night when he brought down a clearance on the edge of the area before firing a yard over.

But then Accrington gave them plenty to worry about, highlighted by the yellow cards dished out to Jack Barmby and Bradley Walker when they deliberately brought down advancing red shirts.

After seeing Franks' header drop kindly in to the arms of goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, Accrington regrouped and looked the more dangerous going forward before half-time.

Winger Lee Molyneux went close with a free-kick, while Will Hatfield was unfortunate to see his shot on the turn from close range deflect narrowly wide for a corner.

There was also a booking for Sam Collins, who got involved with an onfield spat with team-mate Walton in a further sign that things were not going smoothly for the visitors.

That seemed to have the desired effect too, with Hartlepool actually improving as the half wore on although the opener still seemed hard to come by.

Yet it was Accrington who emerged the stronger again after the restart. Josh Windass, the son of former Middlesbrough forward Dean, came within a few inches of finding the net with a curling 22 yard strike.

Every time Hartlepool pushed forward they were unable to hold things up to bring others in to play and when another move broke down, Accrington counter-attacked and Windass' rocket flew narrowly wide.

Substitute Kal Naismith also forced Scott Flinders in to a couple of low saves as Hartlepool looked in danger of conceding. 

After Monkhouse had directed a near post header toward Bettinelli from Luke James' cross, Cooper introduced both Harewood and James Poole in a bid to nick a late winner.

That never arrived and had it done it would have been slightly harsh on Accrington Stanley.

ACCRINGTON STANLEY (4-4-2): Bettinelli; Buxton, Aldred, Winnard, Wilson; Hatfield, Joyce, Windass, Molyneux; Webber (Naismith 69), Gray (Odejayi  81). Subs: Dawber (gk), Clark, Mingoia, Atkinson, Bowerman.

Goals: None

Booked: Naismith

HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Flinders; Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden; Barmby (Sweeney 86), Walker, Walton, Monkhouse; Franks (Poole 81), James (Harewood 88). Subs: Rafferty (gk), Compton, Rodney, Hawkins.

Goals: None

Booked: Barmby, Walker, Collins

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Attendance: 1,196

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