Pools were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by Sheffield United who left The Vic with a 2-1 win and passage into the Third Round of the competition.
Despite the result, the game was not as clear-cut as the visitors would have hoped and Pools made them work hard for their victory, showing a real enthusiasm and determination in their performance.
It was Sheffield United who were first to really press the issue in the final third and Neil Austin put in a brave header to clear the danger early on before Scott Harrison got up to deflect an effort wide of goal.
Louis Reed broke through on goal but dragged his shot wide of tonight’s skipper Scott Flinder’s post before Pools started to find their feet and play some decent attacking football.
Youth Team midfielder Kieran Green, making his debt for Pools this evening, became increasingly more assured in his role and showed a real maturity and promise with his performance.
Ryan Brobbel began to enjoy more space down the left as well and he had a couple of first-half chances on goal, curling his first chance into the arms of the keeper before seeing a second go just wide.
Tommy Miller, playing in a relatively young middle three, used his experience to keep things ticking over for Pools and there was some real positivity from the team at times this evening.
But with Pools looking to make the most of some possession, Sheffield United broke upfield to take the lead; it was a good move by the visitors who worked the ball forward to Jose Baxter and he made no mistake with a smart strike past Flinders and into the bottom corner of the net.
United had another chance before the break as full back Bob Harris burst forward to shoot on goal only to see his effort scrape wide f the post.
Green had a late chance for Pools in the first half as he hit a low drive through the box but the ball found Turner waiting and Pools went into half time trailing.
Despite coming out for the second half a goal behind, Pools maintained a real enthusiasm and started the second half on the front foot, pushing forward from the off.
And it was a determination they showed throughout the second forty-five, scoring a deserved equaliser on fifty minutes.
Michael Duckworth picked up possession twenty yards out on goal and, encouraged by shouts of ‘shoot’ from the crowd, the right back did just that and saw his effort deflect past Turner and into the back of the net. And Duckworth showed off an acrobatic celebration to mark his first goal for the Club.
Pools had more chances on goal as the continued to press the visiting goal; Duckworth remained a threat from right back while there was pressure from Brobbel and Hawkins down either flank.
At the other end, Pools somehow kept the ball out as it was pinged around the box by the visitors and Scott Flinders somehow got a block to the final shot through a crowd to stop it crossing the line.
Charlie Wyke went close with a header before Chris Porter sent the ball just wide from a Jamie McNulty effort as the game really opened up.
But it was the visitors who took the advantage; a break forward saw the ball laid out to Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the right side of the box and he unleashed a fierce drive which beat Flinders to make it 2-1 on 82 minutes.
Lewis Hawkins, who looked strong in the second half, created an opening for Pools at the other end with a great run forward down the right but his final ball into the box was cleared away from danger.
Sub Connor Smith added a spark when introduced ate in the game and had a couple of decent runs on goal but in the end Pools couldn’t find a way through and the game finished 2-1 to the visitors.
Full Time: Pools 1 Sheffield United 2
Booked: Hawkins (29)
Att: 1856 (361 Sheffield United)
Pools: Flinders, Duckworth, Harrison, Austin, Jones, Miller, Woods, Green (Walker 74), Hawkins (Smith 85), Brobbel, Wyke.
Subs Not Used: Richards, Holden, Franks.
Sheffield United: Turner, Harris, Basham, Baxter (McNulty 46), McGinn, Davies, McGahey, Porter (Collins 84), Campbell-Ryce, Reed, De Girolamo (Murphy 62).
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Willis.