Narrow Defeat For Pools At Notts Count
Pools went close to matching the bright start at Morecambe, creating the first chance after just three minutes; great work by Michael Duckworth, back for his first start since December, opened things up for Hignett’s side. The full back linked up well with Luke James and Michael Woods before seeing his final ball in cut out by the defender to deny Jake Gray a shot at goal.
It was Pools who were dominant in the opening ten minutes, showing a real confidence in their approach, passing the ball about with purpose in the final third.
And while Pools remained on top in terms of performance, Notts County did begin to get forward to try and get the opening goal themselves.
Liam Noble was the man who found himself on the end of most County attacks but his early shots failed to find target and when he did, the save was easy for Trevor Carson.
Filip Valencic broke well down the left for the hosts but his powerful cross into the box was blocked out strongly by Adam Jackson.
For Pools, Lewis Hawkins got forward to fire in a shot from outside of the box but his effort was deflected into the arms of Scott Loach.
Michael Woods and Lewis Hawkins linked up as Pools put together a flowing move forward but with the goal insight, the pair shared too many touches and Notts County cut in to clear. Woods had another chance but mis-fired into the arms of Loach.
Woods was involved in another decent move from Pools as he burst forward with real purpose, skilfully avoiding one challenge before skipping past another only to be denied by a great tackle from Hollis inside the box. Rhys Oates then arrived to take up possession but his driven effort was blocked by the legs of Loach.
As Pools edged back on top towards half time, Oates steamed forward from the half-way line, avoiding the attentions of both Hewitt and Edwards to get in and shoot at goal. His final shot went wide of the far post but Pools were looking bright as the first half came to a close.
And despite a strong start to the second half from Hignett’s men, Notts County were soon on top; Trevor Carson was forced into two saves, first to deny Wes Atkinson and then to block from Izale McLeod at the post.
With ten minutes of the second half gone, the hosts got the goal their increasing pressure had threatened and it came from Jon Stead. The ball to the striker came from Valencic and Stead showed composure to calmly sidefoot it past Carson to make it 1-0.
The hosts were spurred on further by their goal and it was Carson’s target that looked the most under threat for a good spell of the second half.
Michael Woods found a gap to give Pools a chance in this second half and, when his ball just failed to find its intended target of James, Lewis Hawkins stepped up to smash a ball towards goal which was well-saved by Loach. Rob Jones saw his shot from the resulting corner cleared off the line by Liam Noble.
But Pools were frustrated for much of the second half as they struggled to play with the same style and confidence as they had in the first 45 minutes. There were still a couple of late chances for Hignett's side to get a late equaliser, with Brad Walker first pushing on to send a shot from distance in which went just over before Luke James turned to shoot only to see it held by Loach.
And so the game finished in defeat for Pools, whose next match is on Saturday at home to York City.
Full Time: Notts County 1 Pools 0
Booked: Magnay (44), Hawkins (70)
Notts County: Loach, Hollis, Noble (Amevor 90), Hewitt, Valencic (Campbell 70), Atkinson, Stead (Gibson 80), Audel, Aborah, Edwards, McLeod.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Murray, Snijders, Sarpong.
Pools: Carson, Magnay, Jackson, R Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Hawkins, Woods, Gray (Walker), James, Oates (Bingham).
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Richards, D Jones, Laurent, Smith.