Pools were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at Bradford City on Tuesday evening as the hosts grabbed the only goal of the game just seven minutes from the end.
John Hewitson’s men were hit where it hurts in the final stages when some defensive hesitancy allowed the dangerous Ellis Hudson to score what turned out to be the winner.
There was drama right at the end as Pools piled on the pressure looking for a leveller but it was the hosts who hung on to ensure a nervy Round One victory.
It was a cagey opening period under the lights at Valley Parade and, although both sides were knocking it around well at times, there was a lack of cutting edge on show.
A left-wing free-kick caused a moment of panic in the Pools penalty area before keeper Ryan Catterick dived on the loose ball, while at the other end Josh Hawkes brought a save out of George Sykes-Kenworthy with an effort from the edge of the box.
Pools centre-back Jacob Owen was afforded enough space to move forward just after the half-hour mark and he let fly with a long-range effort which was well parried by Sykes-Kenworthy.
After a tight first period, City got on the front foot early on after the restart; Tom Windle escaped down the right to play a low ball in to Niah Payne but he couldn’t apply the finishing touch.
Minutes later Payne fed the ball through to Ville Moilanen on the right of the area and when he returned it to Payne, the front man jinked in to space before seeing his shot deflected over.
The Bantams continued to press and Hudson almost got through on goal but, as he prepared to shoot, Fielding got across with a well-timed challenge and the ball fell loose for keeper Catterick.
The hosts came very close to opening the scoring on 64 minutes when Hudson raced on to an excellent ball forward from Sam Wright but his deflected shot across goal clipped the post on its way wide.
City were dictating possession and Pools were forced to defend in determined fashion for much of the second half; Curtis Peters tried his luck from distance for The Bantams but it was well wide.
Pools almost snatched the lead on a rare foray forward when substitute Brooklyn Miller charged away down the right but Sykes-Kenworthy just about kept out his powerful drive.
And City made the most of that escape when they opened the scoring on 83 minutes. The home forward put Catterick under pressure and when he attempted to find Owen on the left, Reece Powell nipped in to win possession, squared for Hudson and he calmly rounded Catterick before drilling the ball home.
Catterick did well to keep Pools in it with three minutes left when City swept forward again down the right but when the ball was cut back to Powell on the edge of the box, his well struck shot was tipped over by the keeper.
Pools could have levelled when Connor Simpson expertly chested the ball down to Ethan Wood on the edge of the area but his low drive was held by Kenworthy-Sykes.
Seconds later there was an even bigger chance when Hawkes escaped in to space on the right and delivered a low ball across the six-yard area but Lewis Orrell -sliding in at the far post – diverted it agonisingly wide of the upright.
And with 94 minutes on the clock, Pools final chance came and went as Hawkes got in to space on the left of the area but saw his fierce drive tipped over the bar and City scrambled away the resultant corner to see the game out and progress to Round Two.
Full Time: Bradford City 1 Pools 0
Pools: Catterick, Richardson, Cooper (Short 69), Wood, Owen, Fielding, Jackson (Miller 78), Orrell, Hawkes, Simpson, Weirs.
Subs not used: Moloney, Holliday, Boyle.
Fielding 33 (foul), Orrell 49 (foul)Booked: