Pools suffered their first defeat of pre-season as Harrogate Town ran out 2-1 winners in a competitive encounter at the CNG Stadium on Saturday.
Craig Harrison opted to rotate his starting eleven to make sure all the players got minutes under their belts; Conor Newton made his first appearance after signing on Thursday, while Nicky Featherstone was in the line-up for the first time since recovering from hernia surgery.
The Pools boss also took the opportunity to look at two new trialists in the shape of goalkeeper Soren Pirson and defender James Risborough, while Martin Smith and Junior Mondal also started.
A cagey opening to the game was punctuated only by a couple of strong challenges from the home players, particularly a robust tackle which left Mondal in a heap early on.
And it was the hosts who looked the most menacing going forward in the early stages though it took until after the quarter-hour mark for the first shot but George Thomson’s effort flashed wide thanks to a Scott Harrison deflection.
Town front man Simon Ainge turned smartly on the left edge of the box to manufacture a half chance but he drilled his shot too high to trouble keeper Soren Pirson.
Pools’ first shot in anger came courtesy Padraig Amond, who fired just too high following some great trickery on the left wing from Mondal.
The Irish front man came close again just after the half hour point when he scampered through on goal to meet Conor Newton’s searching ball but Amond’s improvised volley looped wide of the target.
Liam Donnelly was almost the man to break the deadlock just before the break when the ball fell kindly to him on the right corner of the area but his well-struck left-foot shot rose just too high.
Rhys Oates provided some instant spark at the start of the second half when he spun on the edge of the area and struck a low shot on goal but it was held by the keeper.
After another period of pressure from the hosts, Pools broke effectively on the counter-attack and Lewis Hawkins found space to unleash a shot but it flew just over the bar.
Oates had a golden chance to open the scoring on 66 minutes when a Town defender played a suicidal square ball along the edge of the box but the Pools front man snatched at the shot and the keeper was able to block the effort.
It proved a key moment in the game because little over a minute later the home side went in front; a smart move down the right-hand side saw the ball played across goal and Dominic Knowles was at the far post to slide it home.
Town looked the better side after that and made it pay when they scored a second fourteen minutes from time when Thomson turned twenty yards out and his powerful drive squirmed beyond Pirson.
Pools got one back with more or less the final action of the afternoon and it was almost worth the wait. Nicky Deverdics smashed home direct from a free-kick twenty yards out, the ball flying past the motionless keeper and in off the underside of the bar.
Full Time: Harrogate Town 2 Pools 1
Pools First Half: Pirson, Donnelly, Harrison, Laing, Risborough, Newton, Featherstone, Hawkins, Smith, Mondal, Amond.
Pools Second Half: Pirson, Richardson, Donnelly, Risborough, Hawkins (Woods 60), Adams, Smith (Deverdics 60), Mondal, Hawkes, Donaldson, Oates.
Subs not used: Loach, Blackford, Travers.