Ten-man Pools made it three defeats in a row in the league as they lost out 2-0 to a strong Fleetwood Town side this afternoon at Highbury Stadium.
Colin Cooper’s men kept the hosts at bay for over an hour but two quick-fire goals saw Fleetwood take all three points on a disappointing afternoon for Pools.
Pools came out looking full of enthusiasm but their resolve was tested after just two minutes when they were reduced to ten men. Jordan Richards went in hard for a challenge on Jeff Hughes on the touchline, leaving the Fleetwood man grounded.
The referee was quick to pull out his red card for the Pools’ right back, leaving Cooper to change his game plan with the great majority of the match still to play.
Sam Collins was brought into the action, with Jack Baldwin moving out to right back and Luke James the unlucky man to make way – having played only 9 minutes of the game.
It quickly became apparent that Fleetwood’s main focus of attack was the dominating presence of Jon Parkin up front and the Pools backline were worked hard to deal with him.
Christian Burgess was in good form alongside Collins, putting in a couple of crucial clearances; a cross in from the left was deflected by Burgess who rose well to flick clear. David Ball then sent a shot wide at the front post under pressure from Burgess as the hosts started to see more of the ball.
Pools, as has been the case this season, continued to play the more football and looked promising when pushing forward and despite being a man down, Cooper’s side were well involved in this game.
The best chance of the half fell to the hosts though as Charlie Taylor arrived to fire a corner at goal but his deflected effort was saved impressively by Flinders.
Nathan Pond and Jon Parkin both had half chances before the break but neither hit target and the two sides went in for half time at 0-0. While Pools may not have found the final ball, they showed enough promise for optimism going into the second half.
There was an early scare in the second half as Flinders somehow lost out when collecting the ball allowing Steven Schumacher the opportunity to shoot at an almost-empty net. Fortunately Christian Burgess was back on the line and he managed to block the strike and clear the danger.
Flinders made up for the spill moments later when he pulled off a great strike to deny Parkin who had turned to fire in from close range – Flinders was back to his best with a one-handed reaction block to keep the big striker out.
The hosts were seeing much more of the ball in the early stages of the second half and with an hour gone, Pools had struggled to break out of their own half.
And their pressure paid off when the ball bounced around the area only to be cleared into the path of Parkin; the big striker made no mistake as he smashed the ball past Flinders and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 on 67 minutes.
And no sooner had the game re-started following the goal, Pools were two down; a break forward from the half-way line where Jack Baldwin looked to be pulled back with no consequence, allowed the hosts to break forward and sub Alex Marrow slotted home to make it 2-0.
Andy Monkhouse took matters into his own hands as he looked to pull his side back into the game and he unleashed a great strike from distance which had Davies beat but crashed against the bar and was cleared away.
Pools started to come more into the game and managed to play some football in the opposition half – sub Jonathan Franks offered new option for Cooper’s side with his pace but there was still little to test the home keeper.
At the other end, Scott Flinders saved from Gareth Evans as the hosts looked to capitalise on the break, while Charlie Taylor sent a volley screaming past Flinders’ right hand post but there were no more goals in this game and the match finished at 2-0.
Pools made the trip home on the back of a third successive defeat but Cooper's men will go into next Saturday's match with York City at The Vic looking to halt this run.
Full Time: Fleetwood Town 2 Pools 0
Booked: Baldwin (56), Walton (70), Burgess (82)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin (Sweeney 77), Burgess, Richards, Compton (Franks 77), Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Harewood, James (Collins 9)
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Holden, Hawkins, Rodney
Fleetwood Town: Davies, Murdoch, Roberts, Pond, Schumacher (Mandron 62), Parkin (Evans 79), Hughes (Marrow 7), Goodall, McLaughlin, Taylor, Ball
Subs Not Used: Hogan, Cresswell, Maxwell, Carr