Hartlepool United bowed – somewhat predictably – out of the Capital One Cup at the first stage last night, losing at Nottingham Forest.
Pool are starting out in League Two under a new manager and, while they got off to a flat start at the weekend in losing at Rochdale, Colin Cooper will take more heart from this performance.
Pool fired an effort in on goal on six minutes – but it proved their only strike of the half. Bradley Walker took the ball and turned a shot low at goalkeeper Dorus De Vires. It wasn’t until half-time beckoned that Pool almost had a second chance. Antony Sweeney got forward and tried to connect with a Neil Austin cross but failed to trouble De Vires. By then, Pool were one down and under constant pressure.
Nine minutes in and a cross from Darius Henderson saw Greg Halford turn a header towards goal, only for Jack Baldwin to nod off the line.
Radoslaw Majewski cut in behind Neil Austin, and his effort at goal was placed towards Scott Flinders’ top corner, but the keeper was well positioned to save. But the Polish international was on target minutes later. He found space on the edge of the penalty area and curled a low shot into Flinders’ bottom corner for the lead. A minute later and Pool were thankful that Flinders produced a save to keep out a quickfire second. Gonzalo Jara got in behind the defence, but Flinders blocked with his chest. Two minutes later, Dan Harding tried to curl around Flinders, but he saved.
It was, however, Flinders’ final involvement as he was replaced by Andy Rafferty, with injury presumably playing a part. Pools’ best chance came on 52 minutes, when, from a quick break, Sweeney laid the ball off for James in the area and, as he tried to get a touch, he lost his footing. Cooper introduced Steve Howard after an hour, offering a physical presence up front. But Pool were soon two-down. Rafferty saved well from Andy Reid, but from the corner Greg Halford header across goal and in.
And Reid soon created a third, when he played in Matt Derbyshire to head high over Rafferty. Pool got one back on 76 minutes, defender Neil Austin heading in after a long throw.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: De Vires; Jara, Halford, Hobbs, Harding; Guedioura, Paterson, Majewski; Henderson (Miller 70), Cox (Derbyshire 26), Mackie (Reid 60). Subs not used: Darlow (gk), Collins, Cohen, McLaughlin.
Goals: Majewski 33, Halford 65, Derbyshire 67
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-2-3-1): Flinders (Rafferty 46); Austin, Burgess, Baldwin, Holden; Walker, Walton; Franks, Sweeney, Compton (Howard 60); James (Rodney 84). Subs not used: Collins, Poole, Monkhouse, Richards.
Goal: Austin 76
Referee: Stephen Martin (Stafford) Attendance: 9,081