Pools were knocked out of the FA Cup by Blyth Spartans on a real night to forget here at Victoria Park.
Paul Murray’s side dominated the first half and took a one-goal lead into half time but they failed to show after the break and Blyth Spartans took the win.
Pools burst into action these evening and showed they were well up for the game by pushing Blyth from the off. And with just two minutes on the clock Spartans keeper and Pools fan Peter Jeffries had pulled off his first save – a great one-handed reaction stop to deny Sidney Schmeltz with a header from close range. Michael Woods, who was lively for Pools this evening, was next to try his luck on goal but his shot from out wide went just wide of the far post. Jonathan Franks had a big chance on 12 minutes when Neil Austin crossed in from the right but he just missed his connection under pressure. Scott Flinders made his first save of the game on 22 minutes as he comfortably collected a Daniel Hawkins freekick from just outside the box as Spartans struggled to have an impact going forward.Schmeltz had another chance after picking up the ball in a good position but this time his effort was deflected out wide for a corner after he fed through on the left of the box.Pools were well on top up to this point and made their dominance count on 31 minutes through Jonathan Franks. Determination from Neil Austin saw him find a cross from the right byline which found Franks waiting in the middle and the forward made no mistake with a header from close range to make it 1-0. Blyth upped their pressure after the goal and had a couple of half chances, with danger man Daniel Maguire sending his shot wide of Flinders’ far post and then heading into the arms of the Pools keeper. Marlon Harewood sent a shot wide of goal at the other end just before the end of the first half and Pools took a one-goal lead into the break. It was Blyth who came out brightest for the second half as they spent the opening ten minutes camped inside the final third. Pools struggled to create anything to relieve the pressure as Blyth dominated for a spell.And, just as Pools had scored when they were on top, the visitors did the same and equalised in some style on 56 minutes. Matthew Bates conceded a freekick on the edge of the box, which former Pools man Stephen Turnbull stepped up to take. And the midfielder marked his return to The Vic as he lifted a lovely freekick into the top corner of Flinders’ goal to draw his side level. Pools were showing signs of nerves which needed to be settled if they were to go on and have a say in the rest of the cup tie.There was some controversy as Harewood looked to have forced his side back ahead with the Spartans keeper losing control of the ball on the line but despite strong appeals it was over the line, the officials failed to award a goal and play continued. There was a stoppage in play as Pools picked up a couple of knocks and the game was more open once it restarted as Murray’s side began to test Jeffries more. Lanzoni forced a corner from a Jack Compton freekick but Harewood’s shot from the corner went wide. But Blyth looked to have the most conviction at times and there were a few nervy moments at the back for Paul Murray’s side in the final ten minutes here at The Vic. Then, on 90 minutes, Jarrett Rivers broke through on goal, skipping past a desperate Dan Jones lunge and into the box where he slotted low past Scott Flinders to make it 2-1.It was Blyth who battled hardest in this second half and Pools failed to offer enough going forward to get anything more from this game.And although Bates clipped the bar with a drive in the final seconds of injury time it was Pools crashed out of the FA Cup to Blyth Spartans on a depressing night at Victoria Park.Full Time: Pools 1 Blyth Spartans 2 Attendance: 3735 (1111 Blyth) Pools: Flinders, Austin, Bates, Lanzoni, Jones, Featherstone, Woods, Walker, Franks, Harewood, Schmeltz (Compton 75) Subs Not Used: Maxted, Holden, Hawkins, Richards, Smith, Campbell Blyth Spartans: Jeffries, Nicholson, Watson, Hutchinson, Buddle, Turnbull, Rivers, Hawkins (Mullen 67), Maguire, Wade (Richardson 76), Dale (Wearmouth 90) Subs Not Used: Dixon, Parker, Hooks, Harrison