Pools were well and truly knocked out of the 2012/13 Capital One Cup competition at the first time of asking by Crewe Alexandra.
In a poor first half for Neale Cooper’s men, the hosts took a massive 4-0 lead and despite an improved second-half display there was no way back into the game for Pools. In fact, it was Crewe who finished off the scoring with a late goal to make it 5-0.
After a bright five minutes from Pools, things quickly turned sour as Crewe hit the first of what was to be four first-half goals.
With six minutes on the clock, the hosts broke forward and won a free kick just outside the area; the ball was lifted into the area and, with the ball not cleared, A-Jay Leitch-Smith reacted first to flick a cheeky strike past Scott Flinders to make it 1-0.
Crewe, who had looked a little nervy in the very early minutes, quickly looked full of confidence and began to pass the ball around nicely.
Jonathan Franks, who was one of few bright points for Pools in the first half, set up a chance of an equaliser when he lifted a cross into the area from the right but Steve Howard’s headed effort went just over the bar.
With 12 minutes gone, the hosts were two up; despite a strong suspicion of offside, the very lively Max Clayton run through on goal to play the ball in for Leitch-Smith. Flinders though, reacted well to the initial shot, blocking the effort but the rebound was played back in for Clayton and he made no mistake as he hit home for 2-0.
While Pools continued to look capable when in possession, at the back they looked shaky and Crewe looked a threat with every attack.
At one end Alan Martin pulled off a great save to deny Howard a goal after another good cross from Franks but unfortunately at the other, Crewe were soon back on the attack.
Just after the half-hour mark, Crewe capitalised on more poor defending by Pools to play in Mathias Pogba who made no mistake in making it 3-0.
And, before the half-time whistle blew, Cooper’s men were punished again as Byron Moore broke through to once again set Max Clayton away with a ball over the top and Clayton slotted home into the bottom left corner of Flinders’ goal to make it 4-0.
Neale Cooper made one change at the break, bringing on James Poole to replace Luke James but no doubt will have had plenty to say to all of his players at half time.
Pools made it a bit harder for the hosts after the break and there was an early chance to grab a goal back when Franks unleashed a powerful strike from the edge of the area – his strike though, went just wide of the far post but it was a good effort from the winger.
More good work by Franks, who showed a neat first touch before pushing into the box from the right gave Howard a half-chance at the near post but the big striker saw his effort held eventually by Martin.
As soon as Pools switched off though, Crewe were back again threatening Flinders’ goal – this time it was Moore who fed Clayton but fortunately this time his effort went over the bar.
A ball in from Franks was headed at goal by Andy Monkhouse, only for the ball to crash against the post in the path of Sweeney. He saw his effort hit the same spot and Crewe were able to clear as it looked like Pools would not find even a consolation.
Sweeney had another go minutes later when he met a Horwood freekick inside the area but once again Martin was on hand to collect.
Steve Howard was bundled over inside the area but neither the referee nor his assistant even acknowledged his appeals as Pools continued to plug away in a flat second half here at The Alexandra Stadium.
Neil Austin lifted a neat ball into the box for James Poole, who had offered another outlet for Pools in this second half, but his direct header found the arms of Martin.
And so despite these chances of a consolation – and that is all they would have been – Pools paid the price for a below-par first half defensive performance and will now have to wait until next season to once again compete in the Capital One Cup.
Crewe grabbed a late goal through Pogba, who out-muscled Sam Collins to get his strike in on goal and he rounded off the scoring at 5-0.
Crewe Alexandra 5 Pools 0
Booked: Hartley (5)
Att: 2501 (188 Pools)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Franks, Sweeney, Walton, Monkhouse, James (Poole 46), Howard
Subs Not Used: Baldwin, Holden, Humphreys, Luscombe, Murray, Nish
Crewe Alexandra: Martin, Davis, Westwood, Ellis, Dugdale, Clayton (Turton 86), Pogba, Leitch-Smith (Daniels 79), Moore, Robertson, Osman (Murphy 77)
Subs Not Used: Garratt, Turton, Mellor, Ray, White