Pools lost for the third game in a row after throwing away a two-goal lead to fall to a 3-2 defeat to Barnet at The Hive.
It looked as though Pools would be back on track after Nathan Thomas opened the scoring on 31 minutes before setting-up Padraig Amond for a second just after half time as Craig Hignett’s men produced a classy away performance.
But a red card for Liam Donnelly midway through the second half changed the complexion of the game and The Bees mounted an astonishing comeback to steal the points.
Craig Hignett made one change to the side that was defeated by Leyton Orient last time out with Scott Harrison restored to the centre of defence and Liam Donnelly switching to right-back.
That back four was tested early on as Barnet began at a high tempo. Ben Tomlinson scampered on to a ball down the right before sending a perfect cross to the far post where it was met firmly by John Akinde who was only denied his 14th of the season by a brilliant reaction save from Trevor Carson.
Pools struggled to find a real cutting edge in the final third in the early stages and were almost caught on the counter when Luke Gambin escaped down the right but, after cutting inside skilfully, his left-foot curler was far too high.
As time went on, Hignett’s men began warming to their task and were knocking the ball around with confidence; Nathan Thomas was seeing plenty of it on the left flank and Lewis Alessandra was causing problems by finding space to turn between midfield and defence.
And it was Alessandra who came close to opening the scoring when he took a short corner from Thomas and then trade passes with Jake Carroll on the edge of the box before drilling a low effort just wide of the left-hand post.
However, a short corner from the right wing proved Barnet’s undoing just after the half-hour mark when Alessandra rolled it back to Thomas, who whipped the ball goalwards from the right corner of the penalty area and it flew past keeper Josh Vickers. There was a suggestion of a deflection left nobody in any doubt about Thomas’ claims to the goal.
It was a shock to the system for Barnet and they struggled to recover as Pools continued to dominate possession and look menacing going forward; Alessandra could have added a second after racing on to a clever Padraig Amond flick but his left-foot drive was parried by Vickers.
Thomas had a half chance just before the break when he got one-on-one with the defender, but he was off-balance as he took a shot on goal and it flew high and wide.
Barnet gave Pools a warning at the start of the second half when Tomlinson whipped a free-kick from the left in to the area where Michael Nelson glanced a header just wide of the far post.
However, Pools soon regained their composure and got back on top in the game and on 53 minutes it was 2-0; Thomas found enough space on the left wing to whip a delicious ball across the six-yard area for Amond who couldn’t miss with a header from close range.
Having scored his first goal for the Club last week, Josh Laurent was close to celebrating again when he got on the end of a lovely move involving Alessandra and Hawkins but his powerful drive was just too high.
But midway through the second half the game suddenly changed. A ball over the top caught the Pools’ defence out and Liam Donnelly was adjudged to have bundled Akinde over in the area and the referee not only pointed to the spot but also showed the full-back a red card. Akinde dusted himself down and calmly slotted home from the spot to bring The Bees back in to the game.
Pools attempted to mount a response and Thomas worked an angle for a shot inside the Barnet area but it was charged down – and worse, the winger damaged his hamstring in the process and, after a lengthy stoppage he was stretchered from the field.
To add insult to injury, when play restarted at the other end with a Barnet free-kick, it got played short to Gambin who weaved down the left wing and attempted to cross, only for the ball to nick off Nicky Featherstone and loop over a stranded Trevor Carson to make it 2-2.
Pools were on the ropes and Barnet’s fans were sensing a victory, something which substitute Shaun Batt ghosted in to the six-yard area on to Curtis Weston’s cross and volleyed home from close range with eleven minutes remaining.
Hignett’s men were down but not completely out and they pressed for a leveller during the closing period and ten minutes of stoppage time; Amond saw a low shot held by Vickers, while the home keeper produced a wonderful save to keep out Jake Carroll’s piledriver from the left edge of the box.
However, time ticked away and Barnet celebrated their first home win since the opening month of the campaign while Pools were left to ponder another defeat grasped from the jaws of victory.
Full Time: Barnet 3 Pools 2
Booked: Carson (71), Featherstone (79), Alessandra, Harrison (90+10)
Sent Off: Donnelly (68)
Barnet: Vickers, Vilhete, N’Gala, Nelson, Dembele, Kyei (Weston 38), Taylor (Akpa-Akpro 61), Champion, Gambin, Tomlinson (Batt 55), Akinde.
Subs Not Used: Stephens, Sesay, Muggleton, Nicholls.
Pools: Carson, Donnelly, Nsiala, Harrison, Carroll, Hawkins (Deverdics 86), Featherstone, Laurent, Thomas (Richards 76), Alessandra, Amond.
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Woods, Orrell, Martin, Paynter.