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League Two Fixture
by Neil Weld at Victoria Park
Battling Blues pick up a point
The Blues made the long trip to Victoria Park on the back of five successive defeats and were facing a side in good home form.
But they looked solid at the back and were rarely troubled – not that Pools had too much to contend with either.
Andy Awford made two changes from the side beaten at home by Southend on Tuesday night.
There were recalls for Ryan Bird and Ricky Holmes, while David Connolly dropped to the bench and Tom Craddock missed out with a knee injury.
Teenager Jack Whatmough kept his position alongside Sonny Bradley in a youthful Blues back-line, with Jed Wallace slotting in just behind lone striker Bird.
Both sides looked eager to attack early on and Trevor Carson denied James Poole before Johnny Ertl saw his cleanly-struck volley blocked.
Bradley then did well to clear behind after Luke James had burst down the left and cut the ball back into a dangerous area.
Andy Barcham also found joy down the flanks, sending a dangerous cross in from the right that Jack Baldwin just about beat Bird to.
And Wallace came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 15 minutes with a low drive from distance that struck the inside of the post before rolling along the goal-line and being desperately cleared to safety.
Hartlepool then enjoyed a spell of pressure without troubling Carson, although Bradley just about got enough on his back-pass to the keeper.
Scott Flinders was also enjoying a pretty quiet afternoon, although he did have to stop Bird’s fierce strike from flying in at the near post on 26 minutes.
In truth, it was not a classic game, although the hosts did have a couple of opportunities just before the break.
First, Andy Monkhouse saw his drive deflected narrowly wide and then Carson managed to grab Simon Walton’s effort at the second attempt.
Half Time: Hartlepool 0 Pompey 0
The Victoria Park crowd appeared unimpressed with the lack of quality on show in the first half as the second kicked-off in near silence.
It was Pompey who settled quickest and Barcham had an early effort deflected wide, while Bradley poked straight at Flinders from the resulting corner.
Some sections of the home support were growing frustrated as the Blues kept hold of possession, without looking overly threatening.
But right-back Michael Duckworth showed that Hartlepool were still dangerous when he broke forward from defence and tested Carson at his near post.
That did seem to spur then on a bit more, although the game was still lacking in anything to raise the crowd from their seats.
Barcham tried his best with a looping effort from distance after collecting Shaun Cooper’s fine pass, but Flinders always had the ball in his sights.
James had a decent chance to snatch a winner for the hosts on 82 minutes. Carson almost got caught out by the swerve on the shot, but just about managed to get in the way of it.
The keeper then got his fingertips stung late on, doing enough to divert Matty Dolan’s fierce goalbound strike over the crossbar and secure Pompey a point.
Hartlepool (4-2-3-1): Flinders; Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin (c); Walton, Dolan; Compton (Franks 66), Poole (Sweeney 77), Monkhouse; James
Subs not used: Rafferty, Collins, Richards, Walker, Rodney
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Carson; Devera, Whatmough, Bradley, Potts; Ertl (c), Cooper; Barcham (East 85), Wallace (Connolly 90+3), Holmes; Bird
Subs not used: Sullivan, N’Gala, Painter, Padovani, Maloney
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 4,126 (571 Pompey fans)