Unlucky Pools lost out to a late goal in an entertaining FA Cup tie with Championship side Derby County at Victoria Park.
Ronnie Moore’s men dominated large parts of the game and put on a strong display against the higher league opposition.
But with the clock ticking down, Darren Bent pounced on 86 minutes to snatch the win and secure The Rams’ place in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.
Pools looked like a well-rested side in the opening half here at The Vic as they went at Derby from the kick off.
With Jake Gray, played just off Scott Fenwick up front, pulling the strings for Pools, the early signs were encouraging for Ronnie Moore’s side.
And Gray fed the ball through to Rhys Oates who was inside the box early on but the former Barnsley man was denied a final shot by Jake Buxton with a great tackle.
Gray later set up Fenwick inside the area but the Pools striker was forced off the ball as another chance escaped the hosts.
It was Moore’s side who had the greater share of possession before the break and really gave themselves a chance in this FA Cup tie.
Jordan Richards, back in the side after a long lay-off with a back injury, was bright at right back, overlapping the impressive Lewis Hawkins, who himself was back from a loan spell with Spennymoor, on numerous occasions to open things up for Pools.
While Pools had dominated much of the first half though, it was Derby County who finished on top as they launched a late attack on Trevor Carson’s goal.
The Northern Irish keeper pulled off his first save with confidence on 42 minutes to deny Nick Blackman who met a Ryan Shotton cross eight yards out to shoot at goal. It was a good opportunity for the visitors to snatch the lead before the break but Carson denied them with a save that left Blackman wondering how he hadn’t scored.
Blackman wasn’t finished for this half though as he picked up a clearance from a corner to power a strike back through the box at goal which was deflected over by
Jake Carroll who arrived in the box to send it high.
Blackman had one final chance before the break when he sent another shot from the edge of the box wide of target as the half-time whistle brought the late onslaught to an end.
It was Pools who again started brightest after the break and there was a decent chance for Jake Gray to open the scoring; after good play between Woods and Hawkins, the ball was played square for Gray inside the box only for him to lose track of the ball allowing Derby to clear.
Abdoul Camara went closest to breaking the deadlock on 55 minutes when he smashed a fierce drive at goal from outside of the area – his strike cannoned off the crossbar and bounced back outside the area, such was the power of his strike.
Pools remained a real threat going forward, with Michael Woods really coming into his own in this second half, throwing himself into the attack.
And on 62 minutes, Pools and Jake Gray got their just reward. A brilliant drive into the area by Woods saw things open up for his side and Woods’ cross into the box found the lively Gray waiting to pounce and he made no mistake this time as he smashed home to make it 1-0.
Paul Clement’s reaction to his side going a goal behind was to introduce Jacob Butterfield into the game and that decision instantly paid off.
As Derby pushed forward, the ball fell to Butterfield and he unleashed a powerful drive that sailed past Carson and into the bottom corner of the net to level the scored.
There was a chance for Lewis Hawkins shortly after the goal as Pools maintained their positive approach to this Cup tie but the midifelder’s final effort went over the bar.
At the other end Darren Bent broke into the box to shoot at goal but he was denied by yet another Trevor Carson save.
Pools continued to plug away, showing real determination and positive play in their approach to this game.
But on 86 minutes a cross into the box from Camara picked out Darren Bent and he made no mistake as he sent the ball back past Carson and into the back of the net to give his side the lead.
It was disappointing for Pools who had pushed the visitors every step of the way this afternoon but there was no time for an equaliser and it is Derby who progress to the next round of the competition.
Full Time: Pools 1 Derby County 2
Attendance: 4860 (935 Derby County)
Pools: Carson, Richards, Harrison, Jackson, Carroll, Hawkins, Woods, Featherstone (Bingham 87), Oates, Gray (Walker 80), Fenwick.
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Jones, Nearney, Oyenuga, Smith.
Derby County: Mitchell, Shotton, Pearce, Buxton, Hanson(Russell 46), Baird, Bryson (Butterfield 66), Bent, Camara, Blackman (Weimann 76).
Subs Not Used: Grant, Bennett, Christie, Ssweankambo.