Pools played out an entertaining 0-0 draw with Swindon Town on the opening day of the 2012/12 League One season at Victoria Park.
With both sides enjoying strong spells of pressure, defenders in blue and red were worked hard in the sunshine here today but neither side found the breakthrough and the game finished 0-0 – with former Poolie Tommy Miller missing a penalty in the second half.
Swindon Town started the brighter of the two teams as Pools took a few minutes to find their feet.
But Cooper’s men were quick to rediscover their confidence and were soon asking questions of the visiting defence.
Pools had a great chance to open the scoring on 15 minutes when the recalled James Poole went on a great run through the middle before playing it out left for Jonathan Franks who whipped a lovely ball in across goal. Andy Monkhouse collected it at the far post and looked set to shoot but a little slip by the winger allowed Swindon to move in and the ball was cleared.
At the other end, Scott Flinders made a great save as an Alan Navarro cross was met by the busy Matt Ritchie at the far post but fortunately for Pools, Flinders was on hand to pull off a great block and keep it at 0-0.
While Swindon looked a real threat going forward – with Ritchie on the right wing showing a good turn of pace, the Pools back line had to hold firm and, with Peter Hartley in particular looking confident this afternoon, this was a much-improved showing.
And as confidence grew for Pools, they began to offer more going forward and with Poole bright and Antony Sweeney causing problems with his runs into the area, Swindon were kept busy.
An Evan Horwood freekick into the area went just wide of the far post, while Poole saw both a header from inside the area and a long-range effort go over the bar.
With no goals in the first forty-five minutes, Pools came out after the break looking to do more to test the visiting keeper to get their League One campaign off to a positive start.
And Pools looked very bright in the second half; a good break by Monkhouse set Cooper’s men on their way and when he picked out James Poole running into the area, the signs were positive. But Poole was pushed wide of target and was bundled off the ball.
Minutes later a ball into the box was headed past Foderingham by Steve Howard but the big striker saw his shot come back off the post and into the arms of the Swindon keeper.
Pools were really pressing the visitors, with chances for Sweeney and Monkhouse as they looked to break the deadlock.
There was a very nervy moment for Cooper’s men as Peter Hartley looked to have handled inside the area and a penalty kick was awarded. Former Pools’ man Tommy Miller stepped up to take it only to send his effort high over the bar.
Swindon did enjoy a real strong spell of pressure and sub James Collins had a great chance to put them ahead, firing in from the right side of the area but his shot went just wide of Flinders’ goal.
Pools found themselves under real pressure as Di Canio’s side threw everything forward and Flinders had to pull off another good save – this time at his far post before Horwood arrived to put it out for a corner kick.
The visitors pushed right to the end, giving Cooper’s men little respite on this sunny afternoon at The Vic but Pools held firm and picked up their first point of the new season.
Full Time: Pools 0 Swindon Town 0
Booked: Swindon (McCormack 50), Pools (Franks 81)
Att: 4132 (461 Swindon Town)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley (Baldwin 90), Horwood, Monkhouse, Walton, Sweeney, Franks (Luscombe 84), Poole (James 76), Howard
Subs Not Used: Murray, Humphreys, Holden, Nish
Swindon Town: Foderingham, Devera, McEveley, McCormack, Archibald-Henville, Navarro (Ferry 59), Miller, Ritchie, De Vita (Rooney 54), Benson (Collins 68), Williams
Subs Not Used: Bedwell, Flint, Thompson, Risser