Two second half goals saw Wycombe Wanderers come from behind to defeat Pools on a frustrating and controversial afternoon at Adams Park.
Following victory over Torquay United last weekend, Colin Cooper named an unchanged starting line-up for the trip to Buckinghamshire but some sloppy defending, combined with some dubious officiating left them heading home empty-handed.
With the game still in its infancy there was major drama as Luke James stormed clear on goal only to be bundled over as he prepared to shoot. However, the referee inexplicably decided there had been no infringement and waved play on when he should really have been pointing to the spot and fishing for his red card.
Cooper and his players looked visibly shocked by the non-decision and moments later a concession of possession led to a Wanderers break led by Matt Bloomfield but the skipper sent a rushed effort high and wide.
When Pools went forward they often looked dangerous, getting plenty of time on the ball and finding lots of room in wide areas, particularly down the left where Andy Monkhouse and Darren Holden combined to good effect.
However, it was the hosts who continued to carve out more of the openings and, when Simon Walton slipped as he went to switch play, Sam Wood got to the ball and played through Dean Morgan but the front man scuffed a shot across goal and wide.
Brad Walker did well to block a shot from Nick Arnold on the edge of the box, while Scott Flinders held a drive from Scott McClure, an early substitute for the injured Paris Cowan-Hall.
With half time approaching another Pools ball in from the left found Harewood who showed the presence of mind to lay it off ten yard out to Barmby who took a touch to steady himself before lifting a wonderful looping volley beyond keeper Matt Ingram and in to the top corner of the net.
Wanderers came out with renewed vigour after the break and Pools were forced to block a series of shots on the edge of their own box before counter-attacking dangerously through James who burst away down the right only to deliver a cross too deep to pick out a team-mate.
Flinders had to be alert to claw away an inswinging corner from the left which fell to Dean Morgan who blasted over the bar, while Kretzschmar spurned a golden opportunity when he blazed too high from just inside the area.
However, the half was only around six minutes old when the hosts did level things up; Marvin McCoy’s long throw was headed clear by Sam Collins but when it immediately came back in to the box, Morgan was free to head in to the corner of the net.
The goal knocked Pools’ confidence for a time as Wanderers threatened more though Cooper’s men could have stolen in front again when James almost battled his way in to a shooting position in the area as he continued to cause problems for the home defence.
As Pools recovered their composure they started passing the ball better; Walton sent a left-foot volley just wide before Jordan Richards’ testing cross was well cleared after he had played an excellent one-two with Walker to get clear down the right.
There was more controversy in the offing though and when Kretzschmar whipped a right-wing corner in to the far post Flinders looked as though he was fouled as he tried to gather, allowing McClure to get free and head home to put Wanderers in front.
Kretzschmar should probably have increased the lead but leaned back on his shot to send it high and wide, before McClure made Flinders work with a stinging shot and Morgan put a volley just wide on the turn.
Darren Holden’s long throw was a problem for Wycombe and as he delivered another one in to the area there were appeals for handball as Monkhouse found enough space to fire shot on goal which was deflected over.
Walker almost caught out Ingram with a wonderfully-struck long-range effort but the Wanderers keeper got just enough on the ball to send it round the post for a corner, from which Collins glanced a header wide.
Substitute Antony Sweeney sent a tame header just over in injury time after Pools had attempted to keep Holden’s inswinging corner alive and that proved the final opportunity for the visitors.
Full Time: Wycombe Wanderers 2 Pools 1
Booked: Barmby (45), Walton (70)
Att: 3073 (188 Pools)
Wycombe Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Wood, Arnold, Stewart, Johnson, Scowen, Bloomfield, Cowan-Hall (McClure 9), Morgan, Kretschmar
Subs Not Used: Horlock, Jeffrey, Kuffour, Pierre, Craig, Kewley-Graham
Pools: Flinders, Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden, Walton (Rodney 87), Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby (Sweeney 73), James, Harewood (Franks 73)
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Hawkins, Compton, Poole
Youth Alliance League East Division Result:
Pools 1 Rotherham United 2