Pools lost out 2-0 to promotion-contenders Portsmouth on a lively afternoon at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.
Dave Jones’s side had plenty of defending to do in the opening 15 minutes as Portsmouth started on the front foot, looking a team full of confidence.
Former Pools loanee Kal Naismith was a real threat going forward for the visitors, supported well by the lively Kyle Bennett out wide.
Nathan Thomas spearheaded the first attack for Pools as he broke through centrally to play in up for Lewis Alessandra and, while there was no final shot, it gave encouragement for Pools to get up field.
At the other end Michael Woods put in a great block to deny Naismith a shot on goal after good work by Bennett down the left. Shortly after and Naismith just missed out on another cross from the left as it fizzed across the face of goal and out at the far post.
Nicky Featherstone was important for Pools this afternoon, breaking things up in the middle but also helping out the back four with some calm defending when required.
With 18 minutes gone, Portsmouth took advantage of a strong spell of pressure by grabbing the opening goal; another cross from the left, this time from Enda Stevens found Naismith waiting to pounce. And the in-form forward showed a great touch to smash a perfectly-executed volley past Joe Fryer and into the back of the net.
Pools went on to enjoy the best of the remaining pressure, playing some really neat, flowing football but just failing to break through a tight Portsmouth defensive unit.
A Thomas freekick from the right eventually found Brad Walker, who saw his shot on goal fire against Padraig Amond, while Lewis Alessandra caused a few problems for the visitors with his persistent pressing around the box.
For all Pools’ possession, there just wasn’t enough to test David Forde in goal for Portsmouth in the first half – there was some good play around the box but that final shot of goal was just missing.
An entertaining first half ended on a sombre note as Portsmouth striker Noel Hunt looked to fall awkwardly following an aerial challenge and had to be stretchered from the pitch in the final stages of the half.
Pools came out battling in the second half and started well, with a shot from Thomas on the left pulling a flying save from Forde to clear it away from danger.
Thomas went desperately close to getting an equaliser as he cut in from the left to curl a strike a goal from 20 yards but with Forde beaten, the ball hit against the far post and bounced back into play. Rhys Oates picked up the rebound but his shot was blocked by a wall of defenders.
At the other end, Stevens sent a decent cross in from the left which picked out Gary Roberts waiting in the middle of the box but the forward sent his header from close range high over the bar.
Just before the hour mark, the visitors doubled their lead as Pools allowed them through in the middle too easily and Naismith fired the ball into the box which Roberts this time made no mistake with and he poked home to make it 2-0.
Naismith hit the post with another strong effort shortly after the goal as Portsmouth – and particularly the former Pools loan man - looked a threat with every attack.
The second goal took the sting out of the game and, while Pools did have their share of possession, the urgency shown in the early stages of the second half had gone.
And so the game finished at 2-0 to Portsmouth, with Pools unable to find a response to the visitors' two goals.
Full Time: Pools 0 Portsmouth 2
Booked: Alessandra (4)
Pools: Fryer, Donnelly (Magnay 90), Walker, Harrison, Deverdics, Featherstone, Woods, Alessandra, Oates (Rodney 75), Amond, Thomas.
Subs Not Used: Dudzinski, Richardson, Bates, Hawkins, Rooney.
Portsmouth: Forde, Doyle, Burgess, Evans, Rose, Clarke, Stevens, Lowe (Chaplin 80), Naismith (Kabamba 90), Bennett, Hunt (Roberts 45).
Subs Not Used: O'Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Talbot.