Pools extended their winless run to nine games as Wycombe Wanderers went clear a the top of the League Two table with a 1-0 win at Adams Park.
Ronnie Moore threw all three of his new loan signings straight in to the starting eleven t Adams Park, with Rakish Bingham and Aaron Tshibola handed debuts and Scott Harrison back in central defence.
Matthew Bates was moved in to a central midfield role, with Jack Compton restored to the line-up too and asked to provide some counter-attacking pace from the right wing.
If there were any nerves in coming up against high-flying Wanderers then Pools didn’t show them early on, as Bingham had the first effort of the afternoon but his right-footed shot was held by Matt Ingram in the hosts’ goal.
The dangerous Aaron Holloway almost fired Wanderers in front at the other end when he was teed up on the edge of the box but his fierce shot was smothered by Scott Flinders.
Centre-back Aaron Pierre escaped the attentions of Bates at the far post but could only head Joe Jacobson’s deep free-kick over the bar as Gareth Ainsworth’s side began to grow in stature.
Perhaps the best opportunity fell – quite literally – to Holloway who burst through the middle away from Harrison but lost his footing on the edge of the box as he prepared to shoot and Nicky Featherstone was there to pick his pocket.
Pools continued to carry a little menace on the counter but despite putting together some decent football – with Tshibol and Bingham heavily involved – they couldn’t find a cutting end product.
It was on one such foray forward that Pools were picked off on the break; Michael Duckworth tried to wriggle in to the box and was dispossessed and the ball was fired up to Holloway who turned beautifully away from Harrison and fed Josh Scowen. The midfielder darted towards the edge of the box and squared to Fred Onyedinma who smashed home the opening goal on 37 minutes.
Perhaps it was a little harsh on Pools who had held their own up until that point, and they could have levelled almost immediately when Jonathan Franks scampered away down the left and crossed for Compton but he was under pressure in the middle and headed over.
Sam Wood stung the palms of Flinders with a long-distance drive, before Tshibola exchanged passes with Bingham but drilled a left-footed shot well wide from twenty yards out.
On the stroke of half time there was a let-off for Pools when Jacobson’s dangerous free kick in to the box was forced home by Peter Murphy but the flag was up for offside and the goal didn’t stand.
Pools began the second half in lively fashion as Bingham found space to send a shot on goal but it took a deflection and spiralled up on to the roof of the net.
However, Wanderers soon regained the initiative; Josh Scowen drove a shot over from long-range, before Sam Wood ran in behind but dragged his effort wide when he should have scored.
Tshibola had a half chance when Franks’ cross fell loose to him to the edge of the box but he couldn’t connect with his shot and the opportunity was gone.
A sloppy Dan Jones pass on the halfway line allowed Wanderers to break down the right and a cross picked out Holloway in the middle but the front man couldn’t divert it home.
Impressive centre-back Aaron Pierre looped a header wide from a typically dangerous Jacobson delivery, while Wood saw a low free-kick deflected just wide of Flinders’ post.
Pools introduced Lewis Hawkins to the action and he could have had an immediate impact when the traded passes with Featherstone before sending a low cross in to the box which was fumbled by Ingram but hurried clear by the recovering defenders.
A lovely piece of football freed Murphy on the left of the box but, with the goal gaping, Flinders stormed from his line to produce a wonderful save and prevent a second goal.
Bingham came closest of all to snatching a point late on when Compton’s pinpoint drilled corner picked out the striker but his firm header hit the base of the post and went behind.
Hawkins’ desperate lunge in injury time did little to help Pools’ cause as the midfielder was shown a second yellow card after arriving late on Jacobson and Moore’s side ended the game with ten men.