Town 2 Hartlepool United 2
Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Darren Jones, Luke Summerfield, Joe Jacobson, Michael Hector, Paul Parry, Matt Richards (c), Terry Gornell (Mark Wright 75), Marvin Morgan, Aaron Wildig
Subs: Joe Anyon, Rob Purdie, Ryan Doble, Connor Goldson, Asa Hall, Jon Taylor
Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Jack Baldwin, Sam Collins (c ), Peter Hartley, Evan Horwood, Craig Lynch (Andy Monkhouse 79), Paul Murray, Antony Sweeney, Jonathan Franks (Darren Holden 88), James Poole (Luke James 73), Steve Howard
Subs: Neil Austin, Ritchie Humphreys, Simon Walton, Adam McHugh,
Ref: C Boyeson
Assistants: M Griffiths & D McCallum
Fourth Official: R Joyce
Attendance: 3909 (170)
It's same again for Town as Graham Turner sticks with the same starting line-up and subs that saw them record a 4-1 win over Coventry City on Tuesday night.
It was a pretty even opening 5 minutes to the game with both sides trying to get a feel for the ball and the pace of the game. The best of the pressure around goal went to the home side with first Howard threading a lovely ball into the box to put Poole in on goal but Hector was alert and came across to nick the ball away. Then it was Howard again who was causing problems when he challenged in the air with Hector, the ball appeared to hit the Town players hand and Hartlepool were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, but they wasted it driving it right into the Town wall.
Town were creating chances of their own with Morgan getting a good run in on goal from a ball over the top and then Terry Gornell found space in the home sides box from a Grandison throw, he turned nicely a drilled in a low shot that Flinders did well to collected low at this near post.
It was the home side who got the early advantage on just before the 15 minute mark, they were patient on the ball looking for the opening and then hit a cross field ball to find Howard, he nodded the ball down to Franks who drove in a lovely shot that beat Weale at the far post.
Town were looking to hit back straight away with first Wildig threading a good ball through, then Gornell rising well to meet a Parry free-kick but his header went behind for a corner. The corner was swung across, Grandison knocked it down into the path of Luke Summerfield who drove a lovely low shot in that Flinders get down to pull off a superb save, Hector was following up and nicked the ball home but there had all ready been a flag to call him offside.
Hartlepool were trying to exert some pressure when they could and were getting some space in and around the Town box. They were getting a number of corners and were getting some good openings from these, one where the ball was turned towards the Town goal but Summerfield was in the right place to clear the ball off the line.
Town were on level terms just before the half-hour mark after Joe Jacobson hit a high free-kick into the Hartlepool box, Darren Jones leaped well to meet the ball and nod it down towards Marvin Morgan at the backpost, he kept his composure and sweetly struck the ball past Flinders to make the score 1-1.
Both keepers were having good games and Weale really showed his class when Steve Howard got in a diving header but Weale pulled off a superb one handed save, Howard was called offside but it was still a stunning save. Moments later down the other end Paul Parry curled over a good looking free-kick but Flinders was quickly across his line to tip the ball round the post.
With the game approaching the half-time break Town were on top of things and the home fans were beginning to voice their frustrations. Town were moving the ball quickly and getting it in behind the Pool defence to create some good openings.
Hartlepool looked a little more up for it after the restart but Town were strong enough to keep the home side at bay. Town though were having some good chances in the opening minutes were Parry doing well down the right and making some great bursts into the box, Morgan was creating chances and testing Flinders and Gornell was causing a lot of problems in the Hartlepool box. There was a great chance when Parry looped a cross into the backpost to find Richards, he headed it back into the danger area but Gornell seemed to be tugged back just at the vital moment.
Town were continuing to create openings and take the game to the home side but they weren't getting that break in front of the goal. Morgan has a couple of good sites of goal, and there was a great moment when Town got a free-kick just inside their own half, Parry placed the ball and seeing Flinders off his line Parry hit in an audacious free-kick that dropped just over the Hartlepool bar.
At the other end the home side were having the off chance and after Wildig played a pass that gave possession to Hartlepool they moved the ball wide, they came back inside and Lynch curled in a great shot but Weale was equal to it and pulled off a great save.
With just over 15 minutes of the half remaining Graham Turner made his first change of the afternoon bringing on Mark Wright to replace Terry Gornell with Wright going to partner Morgan up front.
Town grabbed the lead after some strong defending in their own box, they repelled some good pressure from the home side before clearing down field, Richards took the ball down and played it to to Wright on the centre circle, he took the ball down and then threaded a ball between the Hartlepool defenders to put Morgan in on goal and he kept his composure to place a lovely shot past Flinders to make it 2-1 to Town.
Moments later Town nearly had a third and Morgan a hat trick, another good ball put Morgan in on goal but this time Flinders got down to block Morgan's low shot, the ball came back out to how didn't have a clear shot of goal so he pushed the ball out to Parry, he curled in a great shot that hit the far post.
On the stroke of 90 minutes Hartlepool pulled a goal back, very much against the run of play, and it was a stunning strike, the ball was pumped into the Town box, it came to the back of the box and Andy Monkhouse hit in a sweet diagonal volley that smashed into the Town net after giving Weale no chance.
Morgan nearly nicked all 3 points in the final minute of stoppage time when a good move saw the Town forward burst into the box, he drove in a low shot but again Flinders was quickly out to get an important block to give the home side a share of the points.