JOEY Barton missed a penalty on his Newcastle United comeback as a strong Hartlepool rolled over their North East rivals.
The £5.8million midfielder donned the captain’s armband but he couldn’t prevent a young United side from a heavy defeat at Victoria Park.
And his night was tinged with disappointment when he chipped a 65th-minute penalty over the bar. Goals from Michael Mackay and a header right on stroke of half-time from Colin Larkin consigned United to defeat in their Totesport.com league fixture.
And while the miss was embarrassing for Barton, in truth it was a good 75-minute work-out for a player looking to prove his fitness under the watchful eye of United manager Chris Hughton.
Hartlepool completely dominated the first half and striker Mackay went close with a curling shot before opening the scoring on 16 minutes.
United’s back four was cut open by a Larkin pass and Mackay showed a cool head to guide a precise shot past Soderberg. Pool continued to exert pressure on the United goal and Ritchie Humphreys almost extended their lead with a dipping volley. Newcastle had barely made any inroads going forward but in a rare foray into the Hartlepool half Joan Edmundsson exchanged passes with Phil Airey before blasting a shot over Grant Herbert’s goal.
That was a rare moment of opportunity for United, who were two down on the stroke of half-time. Hartlepool had been denied a second when Rowell’s shot was spectacularly tipped around the post by Soderberg. But from the resulting corner Tom Marron flicked on Leon McSweeney’s cross and Larkin was left with the simplest of tasks to nod home.
United came into the game in the second half and won a penalty when Airey burst clear of the Pool back four and was hauled down by Herbert. But Barton dinked the penalty over the bar.
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Herbert; McSweeney, Fredriksen, Rowell, Marron; Haslam, Larkin, Power, Humphreys; Greulich, Mackay. Subs (not used): Wakefield, Liddle, Johnson, Purvis, Richards.
Goals: McKay (15), Larkin (45).
NEWCASTLE: Soderberg; Leadbitter, McLaughlin (Godsmark 56), Marron, Fredriksen; Barton (McDermott 75), Tozer, Donaldson, Ferguson; Airey, Edmundson (Danquah 45). Subs (not used): McCrudden, McDermott, Folan.