Four Unbeaten For Pools In The League
Pools kept back-to-back league clean sheets for the first time this season as another solid performance saw them earn a point at Crawley Town on Saturday.
It was a result which added further daylight between themselves and the sides at the bottom and extended their unbeaten run to four games.
Craig Hignett opted to stick with the same side that took a point at Newport County in midweek with Rob Jones still sidelined with an eye injury which meant Adam Jackson continued in defence.
With a pitch infinitely better than the one performed upon in midweek but still not completely without bobble potential, both sides struggled to put together much measured possession.
Billy Paynter pulled off his man on the right side of the box to buy some space but when he fizzed a ball in to Jake Gray the midfielder couldn’t control and the chance evaporated.
The hosts were comfortable aiming most of their possession towards the head of Matt Harrold and their direct approach also stretched to throw-ins and Lanye Oyebanjo’s lengthy delivery just about cleared away by a panicked Pools defence.
Nathan Thomas came agonisingly close to providing a breakthrough during what was developing in to a dour first half when he stepped in to space twenty-five yards but curled an effort just wide of the left-hand post with keeper Paul Jones seemingly beaten.
The Pools winger tried his luck in similar fashion a minute later, this time opting for more power and his low drive was deflected just wide of the same post by defender Sonny Bradley.
Hawkins –no doubt buoyed by his terrific double strike at Barnet a fortnight ago – let fly with another effort from long-range but this time fournd the roof of the stand rather than the top corner.
At the other end, Town’s best chance arrived when Gwion Edwards checked back on his left foot to deliver from the right where Lyla Della Verde found space but couldn’t direct his header on target, while the winger flashed another shot wide just a couple of minutes later.
Thankfully, the game opened up a little after the break and both sides enjoyed a little more goalmouth action with Pools getting on the front foot in the early stages.
Thomas got by his man on the left to drill a low ball across to the arriving Jake Gray who missed his kick, only for the Town defence to make a meal of clearing and it fell loose to Thomas who saw a powerful right-footed drive tipped on to the bar by Jones.
It served as a warning to the hosts and they responded when Magnay stood on the ball on the hallway line and Edwards raced clear to tee up McAlinden who was only denied by a fine save from Trevor Carson who then scrambled back to palm the loose ball round the post as it bounced goalwards.
Mark Yates made a double change and it could have reaped instant dividends when new arrival Shamir Fenelon ran on to Harrold’s knockdown, only for the impeccable Jake Carroll to take the ball off his foot as he was about to shoot.
The substitute was put clean through seconds later but this time took too long to decide how to finish and Carroll and Matthew Bates teamed-up to get the ball clear.
Town were beginning to get on top but Pools caught them on the break when Hawkins cleared a corner up to Thomas; the winger attempted to commit the defender with a series of stepovers but found an angle only to drive a shot wide.
Injury time could have been painful for both sides with heart-stopping moments at both ends of the pitch in the dying embers of the game.
First Thomas was upended on the left and substitute Brad Walker almost deceived keeper Jones with a wicked, in-swinging free-kick which was pawed clear at the front post.
And then, in the final seconds, Gavin Tomlin skipped in to the left side of the box where his first shot was bravely blocked by Billy Paynter and his follow-up cross was nodded agonisingly wide by Sonny Bradley.
Final Score: Crawley Town 0 Pools 0
Booked: Carroll (31)
Attendance: 1883 (202 Pools)
Crawley Town: Jones, Oyebanjo, Bradley, Ashton, Dunne, Edwards, Sutherland, Bond (Walton 68), Della Verde, Harrold, McAlinden (Fenelon 68).
Subs Not Used: Barnard, Preston, Young, Tomlin, Yorwerth.
Pools: Carson, Magnay, Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Gray, Featherstone, Hawkins (Walker 83), James, Paynter, Thomas.
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Richards, Laurent, Woods, Oates, Bingham.