Pools suffered another heavy defeat at The Vic this afternoon as Coventry City grabbed five goals – all of which came in the second half – to give John Hughes a grounding start to life at Hartlepool.
After a bright first half, in which Hughes’ men were on top for good spells and looked a real threat going forward, the second was a real nightmare for the new boss.
The visitors, who looked impressive after the break, tore Pools apart on occasion in the second half and, after the first goal hit the net, there was no way back for Hughes’ side as the goals kept coming.
Pools, clearly fired up by Hughes, enjoyed a fiery opening period in which they set a high tempo and made sure visiting keeper Joe Murphy was on alert.
Ryan Noble, back in the side after shaking off an injury, was denied by a great double save from the Coventry stopper. The on-loan striker first forced his way into the box to fire at Murphy only to see his effort well parried but then made sure he picked up the ball again to try his luck once more – only for Murphy to deny him once more.
Neil Austin sent a ball in from the right which was flicked on into the box by Ritchie Humphreys for Jonathan Franks. The tricky winger sent an effort at goal which pulled another great save from the Coventry keeper.
Minutes later and a dogged Pools were back at it, with Antony Sweeney intercepting a poor ball out of defence to play Noble in again. This time, the pacy forward looked to have outwitted Murphy but watched as his curling strike went just wide of the post.
As the game moved on, the visitors began to see a bit more of the ball and Pools had to be – and were – strong at the back.
When Franck Moussa sent a nice strike in from the edge of the area, Scott Flinders had to be on alert as he pulled off a neat save to deny the midfielder an opener.
Peter Hartley was solid for Hughes’ side in this first half, enjoying a good battle with the very lively Gary McSheffrey. On three occasions in the forty-five, the impressive winger burst forward and looked set to cause real problems for Pools. But with each move, the Pools’ skipper was on hand with some strong challenges to block the danger.
Paul Murray headed a Richard Wood effort off the line from a corner, while Flinders saved well from Baker and McGoldrick as Pools kept the visitors out.
As the half-time whistle approached, the visitors upped their pressure but Pools held firm and the two sides went in all square at half time.
Pools looked lively again after the break but were hit by an early blow from the visitors; a break forward saw the ball played in to Carl Baker and he sent a low shot which beat Flinders, hit against his left hand post and bounced into the back of the net.
The goal came out of nothing really but, just as Hughes’ men looked to be settling back into their stride after a busy spell from the visitors, there was another blow.
With McGoldrick pushing into the area, he smashed a ball at goal which hit the hand of Peter Hartley and referee Andy D’Urso immediately pointed to the spot.
McGoldrick took the penalty himself and sent Flinders the wrong way to smash it home and make it 2-0 – leaving Pools with a lot to do.
And with the floodgates open, Baker showed a great touch to take the ball down close in on goal, turn and squeeze the ball past Flinders to make to 3-0, just 14 minutes into the second half.
Hughes made two changes just after the half hour mark, with Andy Monkhouse and Simon Walton replacing Paul Murray and Ritchie Humphreys as Pools looked to narrow the scoreline.
And there were chances for Pools soon after, with both Noble and Poole getting chances on goal – though Murphy was equal to both.
Antony Sweeney picked up a freekick from the right to turn a fire a shot on goal but his effort went over the bar as Pools continued to show positivity going forward.
But their enthusiasm was about to be tested further as Simon Walton lost out in midfield, allowing McSheffrey to burst forward. And, with five sky blue shirts going up against just three blue and white, there was only one winner as the ball was played into the unmarked Moussa and he hit home to make it 4-0.
With Pools looking completely dejected now, Coventry just burst through with ease to allow sub Adam Barton to smash home the fifth of the afternoon and make it another big disappointment at The Vic.
Full Time: Pools 0 Coventry City 5
Att: 4404 (519 Coventry City)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Holden, Sweeney, Murray (Monkhouse 65), Humphreys (Walton 66), Poole (Wyke 76), Noble, Franks
Subs Not Used: Foden, Baldwin, Richards, Luscombe
Coventry City: Murphy, Baker, McSheffrey, Jennings, Christie (Clark 88), Wood, Edjenguele, McGoldrick (O’Donovan 83), Moussa, Bailey (Barton 77), Adams
Subs Not Used: Cameron, McDonald, Dunn, Ball