Pools Made To Pay For Bad StartPools fell to a disappointing defeat as Luton Town kept alive their play-off hopes with a 3-0 win over Ronnie Moore’s men at Kenilworth Road.
Moore suffered a blow in the days leading up to the game with the loss of David Mirfin to a toe injury so he reverted to a flat back four for the clash with The Hatters.
Scott Fenwick was used wide on the right hand side, while Jonathan Franks moved to the left and allowed Marlon Harewood to partner Jordan Hugill in attack.
However, the change of shape and the loss of Mirfin seemed to have a big impact on the defence and an awful start saw the game quickly turn in the home side’s favour.
Pools began the game on the front foot and Jonathan Franks gave an early test to home keeper Elliot Justham with a volley but after that it was one-way traffic for a spell as the hosts got right on top.
A series of corners helped The Hatters find the breakthrough with the game only four minutes old; Cameron McGeehan getting free from Shaun Whalley’s left-wing delivery to nod past Flinders whose appeals for a foul fell on deaf ears.
The hosts took confidence from the early goal and the front two of Mark Cullen and Elliot Lee were causing problems for Scott Harrison and Dan Jones who looked a little nervy without the re-assuring presence of David Mirfin alongside them.
Both Jake Howells and Whalley were seeing plenty of the ball down the flanks and when the latter burst in to the box he was bundled over clumsily by Aaron Tshibola and Howells was able to tuck home the resultant penalty comfortably to double the lead on fourteen minutes.
Minutes later it could have got even worse when a straight long ball cut the Pools defence open but Flinders stormed out to dive bravely at Cullen’s feet and deny the Town front man a goal.
The Hatters kept on coming at Pools and Featherstone had to clear one off the line after good build-up play, while Elliot Lee’s low shot was well saved by Flinders and thankfully Cullen was offside as he tucked home the rebound.
The hosts were lucky to preserve their two-goal lead when Marlon Harewood struck a free-kick on goal which took a deflection of a defender and flew straight in to the hands of the grateful Justham.
Flinders had to be alert again to save from Cullen who did well to get a shot in from a tight angle and the Pools keeper did brilliantly to keep out Lee’s low strike after he twisted his way past Scott Harrison to fire on goal.
Neil Austin found himself in unfamiliar territory when he got on the end of Franks’ left-wing cross but nodded a header wide, while Franks himself drew an ungainly save from Justham with a low drive from the edge of the box.
At 2-0 up Luton took their foot off the pedal a little and allowed Pools more time on the ball in the second half but the visitors struggled to create clear-cut chances for all their possession.
The home side continued to look a threat on the break and Lee should probably have done better when he got through on the right but Duckworth came across to clear the danger at the last second.
Duckworth played a one-two with Harewood and saw his shot blocked, before Franks picked up the loose ball and saw his venomous shot deflected wide of the far post.
The third goal was always going to be crucial and unfortunately for Pools it went to Luton on 72 minutes when Moore’s men failed to clear a corner and full-back Scott Griffiths prodded home to make it 3-0.
The result was never in doubt by that stage though the travelling Pools fans kept on signing, clearly taking consolation from the fact that results elsewhere kept their side out of the drop zone with just two games remaining.