Franks Double Earns Pools Point
Jonathan Franks scored twice as Pools came from two goals down to claim a point against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road.
Colin Cooper opted for a new 3-5-2 formation as Pools looked to stop a run of three consecutive away defeats with a trip to Cheltenham.
The Pools boss deployed Neil Austin alongside Christian Burgess and Jack Baldwin in the centre of defence, with Darren Holden drafted in to the line-up at left wing-back and Michael Duckworth on the right.
Antony Sweeney was also recalled in the centre of midfield, with Jonathan Franks chosen to partner Andy Monkhouse in attack as Cooper looked to freshen up his team’s attacking menace.
However, Pools got off to a terrible start as a long ball through the middle bounced on the edge of the area between Austin and Scott Flinders who failed to collect and Jermaine McGlashan converted neatly from the right side of the six-yard box to put Town in front.
It was a real setback for Pools who took a little time to settle down afterwards but when they did recover their composure they began to look threatening on the break.
Holden found enough space on the left to clip a lovely cross towards the edge of the six-yard area where Franks nodded on goal only to see his effort well palmed away by keeper Scott Brown.
Town forced a series of early corners from which they looked a danger without really testing Flinders again, while Franks had another effort for Pools when he seized on a poor pass in midfield to drive towards the area but dragged his shot wide.
Pools continued to grow in stature as the half progressed and came very close to levelling when Matty Dolan’s driven corner was flicked on by Burgess but Monkhouse saw his back post header blocked by keeper Brown.
It appeared that Pools were closing in on an equaliser but they were hit with a sucker punch when David Noble’s inch-perfect cross was met by the dangerous Kemar Roofe who marked his home debut for the Robins by looping header over Flinders to make it 2-0 eight minutes before the break.
There was a controversial end to the half when Dolan’s clipped ball was headed down by Sweeney to Franks who rifled in to the corner of the net from twelve yards only for the linesman to flag for a foul by Sweeney – a decision which looked very kind on the home side.
Pools knew that they would need to start the second half in positive fashion and Duckworth got the team on the front foot with a driving run towards the area before teeing up Dolan but his drive went wide.
Town looked nervy as Pools played with an increasingly strong wind at their backs and they were back in the game when Flinders’ excellent long kick beat the defender and Franks stole in behind to toe-poke the ball past Brown to make it 2-1.
The hosts responded well though and Jason Taylor drove a curling shot just over the bar, while McGlashan wasted an even better chance after collecting a poor Flinders clearance but placing his across goal and wide after rounding the Pools keeper.
However, with twenty minutes remaining it was all-square when the dangerous Franks wriggled in to space on the edge of the box and sent a shot on goal which deflected past the keeper and crept in to the net via the inside of the left-hand post.
After that, Pools looked the more likely to go on and claim all three points; Christian Burgess almost emerged as the hero in unlikely circumstances as he sent an acrobatic overhead kick just wide of the far post.
Dolan volleyed another effort just over before Franks spurned a late opportunity to complete his hat-trick when he failed to get a clean shot away after being played in by Monkhouse.
In the end a point was probably a fair result and, given the circumstances having been two goals down, one which Colin Cooper will have been happy to take.
Full Time: Cheltenham Town 2 Pools 2
Booked: Monkhouse (65)
Att: 2491 (155 Pools)
Cheltenham Town: S Brown, Jombati, Braham-Barrett, Noble, T Brown, Elliott, Richards (Cureton 83), Taylor, Harrison, McGlashan, Roofe (Penn 46)
Deering, Gornell, Roberts, Goldson, AjalaSubs not used:
Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Holden (Compton 45), Walton, Dolan, Sweeney (Poole 65), Monkhouse, Franks. Subs not used: Rafferty, Collins, Walker, Rodney, James.