Pools were made to pay for a sloppy first fifteen minutes as they fell to a 3-0 defeat against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.
Dave Jones’ men gifted their hosts two early goals and gave themselves a mountain to climb as The Hatters continued to keep pressure on the automatic promotion spot in League Two.
The Pools boss made four changes to his starting eleven, handing Joe Fryer his professional debut in goal, while Kenton Richardson made his full senior debut. Michael Woods returned to the line-up after overcoming an ankle injury and Rhys Oates was restored to a three-man attack.
Town, three points outside the top three, started the game with positivity and top scorer Danny Hylton sounded a couple of couple of warning shots with early efforts which flew too high.
But it proved third time lucky for the Hatters’ marksman when a diagonal ball from the right found its way all the way through to Hylton and he took a touch before slotting it clinically past Fryer to make it 1-0 with just five minutes on the clock.
It could have got worse for Pools just afterwards when Alan Sheehan gave Fryer the eyes from a free-kick on the right fringe of the area but the young keeper reacted well to parry the effort at his front post.
Town were firmly on the front foot and got further reward on 14 minutes when Pools failed to deal with a long ball forward and Luke Gambin drove forward on to the loose ball before drilling a left-footed effort across Fryer and in to the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
To make matter worse, Matthew Bates was withdrawn immediately after the concession of the second goal with a hamstring injury, with Lewis Alessandra coming on and Brad Walker dropping in to centre-back.
Pools did come to life a little as the half drew on and Nathan Thomas saw a shot deflected wide from distance before Scott Harrison nodded the resultant corner agonisingly past the post.
However, the hosts came close again just before the break when a right-wing corner from Sheehan was sent towards goal but Andrew Nelson was in the right place to block.
Pools began the second half with more confidence and knocked the ball around well to frustrate the home crowd but Thomas screwed the first effort wide after a long period of possession.
Nelson scampered away on to a long ball from Sean Kavanagh but, when he turned back inside, saw his shot blocked by a recovering Town defender.
Hylton renewed Luton’s attacking menace when he brilliantly turned away from Walker, Woods and Harrison but then blasted an effort over the bar when he looked set to net his second of the night.
His strike partner Vassell then had an opportunity to make it 3-0 when he got in down the left but his angled drive was well parried by Fryer, who immediately jumped to his feet to smother at the feet of Hylton.
The impressive Richardson then fed the ball forward for Oates down the right and his low cross found substitute Padraig Amond at the front post who laid it in to the path of Woods but the midfielder drilled a left-footed shot just over the bar.
Amond then had a chance of his own when he got free from a Thomas right-wing corner but his header was somehow smuggled behind by a combination of Town defenders and keeper Macey.
However, the home side made sure of the points nine minutes from time when substitute Ollie Palmer drove inside from the right and laid a low ball across goal. Walker was there but his clearance ricocheted off Nicky Featherstone right back to Palmer who couldn’t believe his luck as he tucked home the third goal from close range.
Jack Marriott could have added further gloss to the result near the end but impressive debutant Fryer leapt to his left to produce another excellent save to deny the substitute.
An improved second half performance certainly, but Pools could not recover from their defensive lapses in the opening period of the game and their search for an away win continues.
Full Time: Luton Town 3 Pools 0
Booked: (Thomas 42), Richardson (45), Woods (84)
Attendance: 6965 (90 Pools)
Luton Town: Macey, O'Donnell, Mullins, Sheehan (c), Senior, Rea, D'Ath (Smith 66), Mpanzu, Gambin, Hylton (Palmer 73), Vassell (Marriott 73).
Subs Not Used: Cuthbert, Gray, Justin, Moore (GK)
Pools: Fryer, Richardson, Harrison, Bates (Alessandra 14), Kavanagh, Featherstone, Woods, Walker, Oates, Nelson, Thomas.
Subs Not Used: Bartlett, Martin, Hawkins, Hawkes, Amond, Rooney.