Pools lost their second Checkatrade Trophy group game 1-0 to Sunderland at the Northern Gas and Power Stadium this evening.
A second-half strike from Donald Love was enough to see Sunderland take all three points from the group-stage fixture.
There was an early blow for Pools as Lewis Hawkins limped off with an injury after just seven minutes of the game. Brad Fewster followed suit shortly after, leaving the pitch after failing to shake off a knock he picked up in the game.
Adam Bartlett was the busier of the two keepers in the first half, though there was little in it in reality as the game lacked a real spark.
The Pools keeper made an early save from George Honeyman and followed it up with a block to deny Billy Jones from eight yards. He was then called on as Ethan Robson broke into the box and again Bartlett came out on top.
Brad Walker, on in place of the injured Hawkins, had the first half-chance for Pools as he fired in an effort from the edge of the box but he watched his shot go over the bar.
James Martin was lively for Pools at left back and he got forward to ship a cross into the box for Billy Paynter but the ball was just taken away by George Brady who got up highest to steal.
Paynter and Laurent shared a couple of passes in a neat move forward for Pools and, when Laurent squared for Walker, he again went for goal from just outside the box but this time Mike Domingues held the shot.
Bartlett made another save – this time from Josh Maja who got through on goal to shoot – but the keeper was strong and held the effort.
Maja was denied with his next shot at goal but this time it was the assistant’s flag that got in the way. Honeyman did well down the right for Sunderland but when Maja eventually put the ball in the back of the net, the flag went up and the goal did not stand.
After going in all square at half time, Pools looked a little brighter in the second half and had a couple of chances on goal.
Hignett’s side put their best spell of play just after the break, which set up a great chance on goal; Jordan Richards joined the move to whip in a lovely cross from the right which just missed the arriving Jake Orrell to pick out Tom Heardman at the far post. He put the ball over the bar from a tight angle.
Heardman had a better chance shortly after receiving a perfectly-placed cross in from Martin on the left. The ball arrived for Heardman just eight yards out on goal but the on-loan striker just misjudged his header and sent it wide.
Sunderland went on to up their own pressure and opened the scoring on 63 minutes when Donald Love finished off a flowing passage of play with a strong finish past Bartlett.
Maja had a great chance to double the lead on 77 minutes when he found himself one-on-one with Bartlett but perhaps with his previous two efforts in mind, he seemed to expect a flag and sent a weak effort at goal which Bartlett blocked with his feet.
Pools were frustrated for much of the remainder of the game as Sunderland played a game of keep-ball. There were a few glimpses of goal for Pools but not enough to really test Mika.
And so Pools lost their second Checkatrade group game of 2016/17 and now face Rochdale in the final group game in November.
Full Time: Pools 0 Sunderland 1
Attendance: 1295 (420 Sunderland)
Pools: Bartlett, Richards, Pollock, Harrison, Martin, Featherstone, Hawkins (Walker 7), Laurent (Green 69), Fewster (Orrell 25), Heardman, Paynter.
Subs Not Used: Dudzinksi, Richardson, Deverdics, Blackford.
Sunderland: Domingues, Jones, Brady, Ledger (Lawson 54), T Robson, E Robson, Love, Love, Greenwood (Molyneux 85), Honeyman, Maja, Beadling.
Subs Not Used: Casey, Stryjek, Pybus, Wright, J Robson.