Town 1 Hartlepool United 1
Town: Weale, Grandison, Jacobson, Jones, Purdie (McGinn, 65), Richards (c), Morgan (Summerfield, 77), Taylor, Goldson, McAllister, Rodgers (Bradshaw, 65).
Subs: Anyon, Summerfield, Bradshaw, McGinn, Parry, Mambo, Gayle.
Goals: Taylor, 23.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Humphreys, Collins, Horwood, Franks, Walton (Austin, 78), Sweeney, Richards, Hartley (c), Wyke (Poole, 78), Howard.
Subs: Austin, Poole, Monkhouse, Baldwin, Holden, McHugh, James.
Goals: Wyke, 55.
Referee: Mr. C. Berry
Assistants: Mr. R. Ellis & Mr. D. Meeson
Fourth Official: Mr. J. Hull
Attendance: 5,101 (129)
Matt Johnson reports from the Greenhous Meadow
Town were held to a draw at the Greenhous Meadow by League One basement boys Hartlepool after Charlie Wyke cancelled out Jon Taylor’s first-half opener.
Dave McAllister came straight into the starting XI in place of Asa Hall to make his second Town debut after signing permanently from Sheffield United in GT’s only change from the 0-0 draw at Scunthorpe.
After a lacklustre opening, Town forced Hartlepool keeper Flinders into his first piece of action on 12 minutes. A powerful run by Jon Taylor created the opening and McAllister fed Marvin Morgan, who’s curled left footer from the corner of the box was beaten away well by the Pools stopper.
The visitors, who have only won twice all season, came close to breaking the deadlock themselves four minutes later when Jonathan Franks tried his luck from 25 yards, but Weale was alert to palm the ball over.
Almost immediately Town could, and should, have gone ahead. Morgan picked up the ball on the halfway line and went on a trademark powerful run, beating three to get into the box. But when up against Flinders, he could only skew his effort high and wide.
Hartlepool’s goal was living a charmed life and the resistance was eventually broken on 23 minutes. Morgan did well to bully back possession on the edge of the D and the cross was pinpoint for Taylor to slide in at the back post to make it 1-0.
Just two minutes later, Pools came close as Franks fired another warning shot as his long range effort arrowed narrowly wide of Weale’s left-hand post.
Taylor should have doubled his, and Town’s, tally five minutes before the break. Rodgers’ pinpoint cross from the left touchline found the winger unmarked six yards out, but he rifled his volley over. Seconds later Richards forced Flinders into a smart save from distance as Town finished the half well on top.
Half-time: Town 1-0 Hartlepool
Town began the second-half on the ascendency, but were shocked on 55 minutes when Pools drew level. Charlie Wyke picked up the ball 8 yards out and looked to have wasted the opportunity by scuffing his effort, but it deflected off a Town body to leave Weale with no chance.
Buoyed by their goal, Hartlepool grew in confidence and went within a whisker of taking the lead on 63 minutes. Antony Sweeney’s cross was perfect for veteran Steve Howard whose powerful header was cleared off the line by the Town rearguard.
Captain Matt Richards registered Town’s first real second-half chance 13 minutes from time when he broke past two players to the edge of the area, but he couldn’t keep his shot down to trouble Flinders.
Town monopolised possession in the final stages but lacked the ideas to find a way past a stubborn Pools backline until injury time when Flinders saved magnificently from substitute Luke Summerfield’s header and then Tom Bradshaw smashed the rebound off the crossbar. But it was too little too late for Town.
Full-time: Town 1-1 Hartlepool