Pools’ seven-game unbeaten run came to an end at League leaders Doncaster Rovers as the hosts took the points with a convincing 3-0 victory.
Rovers took the lead mid-way through the first half and made it count after the break with two more to secure the points.
It was a different kind of test for Pools in this first half as they were forced to defend for much of the forty-five as Doncaster pushed forward.
The hosts had their first chance of the game after just 3 minutes when James Husband burst forward down the left to cut in a try his luck from close range. Fortunately though, Scott Flinders was alert to collect at the near post and prevent an early blow.
The pitch at the Keepmoat Stadium largely dictated play; the sandy surface was bobbly and hampered Pools in their preferred passing game. And so it was a scrappy opening in which Pools back line saw much more of the ball than the front three.
Sam Collins threw himself into a few crucial blocks to clear the danger, while defensive partner Peter Hartley was equally as strong.
Jack Baldwin also found himself called to help out at the back and he put in one of his trademark tackles to deny Husband inside the box.
Pools’ first real chance of the game came on 27 minutes when Jonathan Franks fired in from outside the area – and his shot had Gary Woods beaten but just scraped wide of the stranded keeper’s post.
Rovers made their possession count on 35 minutes when a solo effort from Iain Hume opened the scoring. The Doncaster forward powered towards goal before sending a low strike through the area which beat Flinders as it nestled into the bottom left corner of his net.
Pools had worked so hard throughout the opening half to keep Rovers out, looking well organised and determined and the goal just after the half-hour mark will have come as a blow.
But it’s not the way of Hughes’ men these days to let their heads drop and the visiting fans clapped their side off at half time knowing that there would be more to come in the second half.
John Hughes sent his side out in the second half to match the 4-4-4 of the hosts and the game was a little tighter.
But it remainder Rovers who looked the most dangerous on the attack and Sam Collins had to intercept a dangerous ball from Coppinger to Cotterill inside the area to deny a chance on goal, before Flinders had to be alert to collect a shot from goalscorer Hume.
Pools had a chance at the other end as a Horwood corner from the left sailed in to pick out Wyke in the middle of the pack but the striker sent his header over the bar.
And that chance for Pools arrived just before Rovers doubled their tally; a patient build-up from the hosts paid dividends when the ball was picked up by former Poolie Coppinger and he sent the ball back across goal where it rolled over the line to make it 2-0.
Flinders pulled off one his ever-typical wonder-saves to deny Jamie McCombe from making it 3-0; as the Rovers man sent a header seemingly goal-bound, Flinders threw himself full stretch to palm the effort round the post.
The home fans were off their feet to celebrate a third goal when Cotterill met a freekick to head on goal but his effort found only the arms of Flinders and not the back of the net as the hosts had anticipated.
Pools went closest to drawing level shortly after when another Horwood corner eventually found Howard at the back post but the big striker saw his headed effort go narrowly wide of the far post.
But Rovers were soon back pushing on goal and when a ball into the box caught Horwood off-guard, sub Billy Paynter pounced to make it 3-0.
It was a disappointing result to bring the unbeaten run to an end but Pools should not be too disheartened as there is a big week ahead to pick up some crucial points in two upcoming home games.
Full Time: Doncaster Rovers 3 Pools0
Booked: Wyke (90)
Att: 7457 (850 Pools)
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Humphreys, Baldwin, Monkhouse, Franks (James 58), Wyke, Poole (Howard 58)
Subs Not Used: McHugh, Holden, Luscombe, Walker, Rutherford
Doncaster Rovers: Woods, Quinn, Spurr, McCombe, Jones, Lundstram, Syers, Cotterill (Bennett 84), Coppinger, Hume (Paynter 62), Husband
Subs Not Used: Maxted, Sinclair, Harper, Wakefield, Ball