Joe Ironside gets his first goal for the Club as Pools draw 1-1 with Oxford United at The Vic.
If the first half here at The Vic this afternoon was anything to go by, Pools were going to show more signs of fight and battle under new Manager Ronnie Moore.
With the new boss roaring his side on from the touchline, it was a more aggressive approach from Pools who looked the most like scoring in the first 45. Joe Ironside, making his first start for the Club, got stuck in early on and made a nuisance of himself, while his strike partner Marlon Harewood made his presence felt with some bustling play. It was Oxford who were expected to dominate possession going into the game but Pools had other ideas as they took hold of the game and pressed forward throughout the opening half. Michael Woods, who put in some strong tackles in the middle of the pitch, had the first real shot of the game as he unleashed a powerful volley from the edge of the box. The ball sailed into the arms of Ryan Clarke in the visiting goal but it was a decent effort from Woods. Danny Hylton had the first effort for Oxford with a header from close range but Scott Flinders was there to collect and the danger passed for Pools. Pools finished the half on top and had a couple of half-chances to open the scoring; Harewood and Ironside linked up inside the box but the latter just failed to get this shot away before a great surging run from Franks set up Harewood but he was denied by Clarke with a good save. There was plenty of optimism at half time but Pools would need to break their recent habit of coming out slowly in the second half if they were to get the points from this game. And it was an unsettled start to the second period for Pools, with Flinders having to make a couple of solid saves within the first five minutes. Jonathan Franks had Pools’ first effort in the second half and he went close; after keeping the ball in on the touchline, he turned to fire across goal but his effort went just wide of the far post after stinging the hands of Clarke. The shot settled the nerves for Pools and they were soon back on the attack – this time with more success. A beautiful ball forward from Sidney Schmeltz fell perfectly into the path of Ironside who took it nicely in his stride before sending the ball past Clarke and into the back of the net, triggering big celebrations from fans, players and staff at The Vic alike. Pools, roared on by the fans inside The Vic this afternoon, had to be alert at the other end to hold their lead and Flinders showed the spirit needed as he threw himself bravely at the feet of Hylton to deny him before Holden was able to clear. Oxford United did get their equaliser on 65 minutes as Danny Hylton met a ball across goal to poke it past Flinders and set up a nervy finish to the game. The visitors went on to dominate possession following their goal and Pools struggled to create much of note at the other end. Scott Fenwick offered a new option for Pools when he came on late in the game and a freekick he won lead to the first real goalmouth action for the home side in this second half. Austin’s freekick was headed out by Jake Wright, who looked to narrowly avoid an own goal, before Woods and Bates got stuck in from the following corner. Fenwick’s presence – and his ability to draw fouls from his opponents – eased the pressure for Pools in the closing minutes of the game. A fierce half-volley from Franks in added time was well-saved by Clarke as Pools looked to snatch a later winner but despite pressure late into the four minutes of added time, the game finished 1-1. Ronnie Moore's first game in charge saw him pick up his first point for Pools and gave the new boss plenty to work on going into the Boxing Day match at Mansfield Town. Full Time: Pools 1 Oxford United 1 Booked: Woods (45), Harewood (61) Pools: Flinders, Austin, Bates, Jones, Holden, Schmeltz (Compton 74), Fetaherstone, Woods, Franks, Harewood, Ironside (Fenwick 79). Subs Not Used: Maxted, Lanzoni, Richards, Green. Oxford United: Clarke, Mullins (Dunkley 31), Wright, Rose, Hylton, Whing, Collins, Riley, Burns, Holmes-Dennis, Campbell (Meades 55). Subs Not Used: Potter, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Crocombe, Ashby.