Pools Battle For Point With Luton
Ten-man Pools dug in to pick up a well-earned point against high-flying Luton Town at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.
After a strong first-half performance which was capped off with a goal from Birthday boy Nathan Thomas, Pools played much of the second half with ten men and battled hard for the point against a determined Hatters side.
After a quiet start, the first half was an entertaining watch, with both teams playing some good football.
While Luton Town put together some decent spells of pressure, Pools remained a real threat on the break, with pressure from both wings.
Nathan Thomas sent a perfectly-weighted pass into the box from a deep left position which was just nicked off the head of Padraig Amond who was waiting to nod it home.
With ten minutes gone, the attack came from the other side as Jordan Richards got forward to whip a cross in again for Amond but once again the defender just got there in time to steal it.
The following corner caused problems inside a crowded penalty box but with bodies battling on the ground, the ball was pushed around the near post and out of play.
As Luton got more involved in the game, Jack Marriott broke forward at pace with Trevor Carson in his sights but fortunately Liam Donnelly kept pace with him to do just enough to prevent the strike. Marriott did manage to push the ball into the path of Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu who saw his shot blocked by Carson before Jake Carroll kicked well clear.
Toto Nsiala was next to be called into action, and the big defender did what was needed with a great tackle to take the ball from the feet of Marriott.
With Pools back on the attack, Thomas sent another ambitious ball in from the left which missed Amond but was picked up Alessandra on the right and he sent it back square to set up Josh Laurent who sent his shot just high over the bar.
Lewis Hawkins was instrumental in the middle for Pools this evening, playing with clear confidence and dominating for his side.
Donnelly, playing alongside Nsiala at the back this evening in the absence of the suspended Scott Harrison, was strong for Pools and put in a number of crucial blocks in the first half, while Nsiala also looked solid.
And Pools strong first-half display was rewarded in added time when Laurent stole possession just outside the area and fed it forward to Alessandra. He passed it in for Hawkins who saw his powerful strike at goal blocked by Christian Walton. Birthday boy Nathan Thomas reacted first a pounced on the rebound to thunder home his fifth goal in as many games to make it 1-0.
Hignett’s side looked full of that confidence after the break and could well have doubled the lead when Amond found himself in space. With just Walton to beat the striker picked his post but saw his effort bounce off the crossbar and come back into play. Nathan Thomas picked it up but saw his strike curl just wide of the near post.
And with less than ten minutes of the second half having been played, Pools were down to ten men as Nicky Featherstone received his marching orders. The midfielder went in to challenge Olly Lee on the half-way line and the referee was quick to make his mind up as he pulled out the red card and sent Featherstone off.
Pools were now left with over thirty minutes to play with a man down and in the minutes immediately following the goal, the game became frantic as Luton tried to take an instant advantage and they had a great chance for Marriott but he sent his effort from close range over the bar.
Minutes later and Mpanzu was in a great position as he sent a great strike at goal but Nsiala did brilliantly to get just enough on the strike to send it onto the post and Pools held onto the lead.
Pools lived something of a charmed life following the sending off and escaped an equaliser thanks to an outstretched boot, leg and arm.
But when the busy Alex Gilliead was tripped just outside of the area by Laurent, the Hatters were awarded a freekick in the perfect position for skipper Alan Sheehan. The defender stepped up to curl in a trademark freekick which sailed twenty yards and into the top corner of Carson’s net to make it 1-1 with just over ten minutes left.
As Luton looked to snatch the three points, Cameron McGeehan burst into the box to power a shot at goal but Toto Nsiala was in determined mood as he threw himself into the block and took the ball full in the face to deny the chance.
At the other end, Nathan Thomas burst forward to try his luck with a strike from the right of the area but his shot dipped just the wrong side of the bar.
Pools were spending the great majority of time defending as the final whistle - which included six minutes of added time - approached, making for a very tense finish. Luton Town came back at Pools time and again and every player in blue and white dug in to keep the visitors out.
Trevor Carson pulled off a great save with his feet to deny an initial shot from Olly Lee but Jack Marriott stepped up with the goal in his sights to fire home the winner only to blaze over from close range.
It was a battle to the very end for Pools and, while the second half was not as entertaining as the first, there was just as much endeavour from ten-man Pools who battled all the way for the point this evening.
: Hartlepool United 1 Luton Town 1Full Time
3533 (311 Luton Town)Attendance:
Featherstone (54)Sent Off:
Booked: Fewster (96)
Pools: Carson, Richards, Nsiala, Donnelly, Carroll, Featherstone, Laurent, Hawkins, Alessandra (Deverdics 73), Amond (Heardman 84), Thomas (Fewster 87).
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Pollock, Martin, Paynter.
Luton Town: Walton, Potts, Gray (Vassell 65), McGeehan, Marriott, Gilliead (Cook 79), Mpanzu, Lee, Justin, Famewo, Sheehan.
Subs Not Used: King, O’Donnell, Smith, Cook, McQuoid, Musonda.