Pools’ search for an away win stretched to twelve games as Colchester United consolidated their position in the play-off positions with a 2-1 win at The Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Dave Jones had been forced in to a change with Sean Kavanagh unable to travel due to a hamstring problem but Liam Donnelly slotted in at left-back after recovering from an ankle injury.
And it was Pools who got out of the traps quickest in the opening minutes and Nathan Thomas created a moment of danger when he found space on the edge of the box and drilled a ball across goal but Padraig Amond just couldn’t across the defender and the chance evaporated.
The U’s – boosted by moving in to the play-off places in midweek – came close when a corner was cleared only as far as Sean Murray but his shot was blocked and then Joe Fryer reacted brilliantly to keep out the follow-up shot from Brendan Dickenson.
Brad Walker was once again being employed at centre-back and looked comfortable, but for a sloppy moment when Dickenson robbed him on the byline as he tried to watch the ball out – thankfully, Fryer produced another good save to keep it goalless.
Chris Porter thought he had scored just before the half-hour mark when he prodded home Kurtis Guthrie’s low cross from the right but the offside flag ruled out his effort.
There was another moment of danger when Sean Murray did well to turn in to space twenty-five yards out but his drive took a nick of Scott Harrison and flew just over the cross bar.
From the resultant corner The U’s could have gone in front when a whipped delivery to the far post found George Elokobi and Chris Porter in space but the team-mates got in each other’s way and the chance was gone.
Pools began the second half with spirit and a teasing Thomas delivery found Amond at the front post but the Irishman could only head over the bar as it bounced up awkwardly on him.
After that it was the home side who got on top and Pools were pressed back in their own half, though they did continue to carry a threat on the counter.
However, just after the hour mark John McGreal’s side went in front when full-back Richard Brindley got forward down the right and whipped a great cross in to the front post where Kurtis Guthrie headed home from six yards.
It could have gone 2-0 not long after when a right-wing corner found Porter at the front post but the front man got his header all wrong and it went high and wide.
Murray drove to the byline on the left of the penalty area and delivered a fierce ball across goal where Porter did battle with Harrison and Walker but the ball flew wide of the target.
The game swung massively in the hosts’ favour on 77 minutes when Guthrie got the wrong side of Donnelly who did everything he could to avoid fouling The U’s forward but did enough to convince referee Ben Toner to point to the spot. Porter did the rest from the spot, tucking his shot beyond Fryer in to the top left corner of the net.
With the home crowd now sensing the game was over Pools took advantage of a spot of complacency when substitute Louis Rooney drove forward and the ball fell for Thomas who prodded it beyond Sam Walker to bring it back to 2-1 with eight minutes left.
Jones’ men piled forward after that, even throwing Harrison forward to add his physicality to the attack; Thomas dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area before both the winger and Nicky Featherstone saw shots on target blocked by desperate home defenders.
Seven minutes of injury time – the majority of which came from a lengthy stoppage for Guthrie to be carried off – passed without much incident and Pools were left to contemplate another journey home empty-handed.
Full Time: Colchester United 2 Pools 1
Booked: Woods (57)
Attendance: 3357 (167 Pools)
Colchester United: Walker, James, Elokobi, Briggs, Brindley (Wright 71), Lapslie, Garvan, Murray, Dickenson, Guthrie (Pyke 92), Porter (Fosu-Henry 80).
Subs Not Used: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Edge.
Pools: Fryer, Richardson, Harrison, Walker, Donnelly, Featherstone, Woods, Alessandra (Hawkins 80), Oates (Rooney 80), Amond, Thomas.
Subs Not Used: Dudzinski, Martin, Hawkes, Smith.