Scottish Premiership outfit St Johnstone ran out winners by a single goal as Pools got another useful pre-season exercise under their belts at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.
Steven MacLean – who scored from the spot against Pools for Sheffield Wednesday in the 2005 Play-Off Final – hit the net in the first half for the Saints in a competitive encounter in Perth.
Craig Harrison elected to name a strong starting line-up for the trip to Perth, though there was no place for Liam Donnelly nor Rhys Oates who were both injured in the Sunderland game.
In to the eleven came Nicky Deverdics and Jake Cassidy after they shook off injury with Nicky Featherstone back on the bench as he looks to build fitness following double hernia surgery.
It was the hosts who clicked in to gear first on a pitch made slick by steady rainfall before kick-off and they took the lead with just twelve minute on the clock. Trialist Romaine Habran found space to cross from the left and his delivery took an unkind deflection off Carl Magnay and looped in to the box where Steven MacLean nodded an opening goal from close range.
Pools settled reasonably well after the setback and began to knock the ball around well, though the St Johnstone defence looked organised and offered no easy way through.
The hosts could have doubled their advantage when a clever move carved Pools open down the right of the box but, after MacLean fluffed his attempted shot, strike partner David Wotherspoon could only hit a tame shot at Scott Loach.
Loach was tested a little more just before the break when MacLean was allowed space to turn on the edge of the area and send a swerving effort on goal which the Pools keeper did well to palm away.
Centre-back Liam Gordon had the final effort of the opening half when he met a corner delivered from the right but he couldn’t get enough on it and it skidded wide of the back post.
The Saints began the second half on the front foot and could have doubled their advantage nine minutes when the ball fell loose for full-back Richard Foster on the right edge of the box but his shot was charged down by Blair Adams.
And Adams tried to make things count at the other end moments later when he got forward to good effect but he couldn’t get a clean connection on his shot and keeper Alan Mannus was right behind it.
A flowing move down the left allowed St Johnstone to engineer a shooting opportunity for Stefan Scougall but again Loach was in the right place to gather the midfielder’s low drive.
Pools came close to levelling things just after the hour when they were awarded a free-kick twenty-five yards out. Nicky Deverdics was full of confidence after netting from a similar position at Harrogate Town last week but this time his powerful effort was pushed around the post by Mannus as it arced towards the top corner.
Padraig Amond almost claimed a great leveller inside the last fifteen minutes when he nicked possession on the halfway line and stormed forward, only to drag his low shot wide from the edge of the area.
Pools survived a real scare four minutes from time when they struggled to clear their lines and Chris Kane prodded a shot at goal which was blocked by trialist keeper Matt Gould before bouncing around dangerously and then falling behind for a goal kick.
Full Time: St Johnstone 1 Pools 0
Pools: Loach (Gould 60), Magnay (Richardson 70), Harrison, Laing (Sadike 60), Adams (Risborough 70), Newton (Hawkins 70), Woods (Featherstone 63), Deverdics, Donaldson (Travers 70), Munns (Mondal 60), Cassidy (Amond 46).
Subs not used: Catterick.
Attendance: 1,157 (54 Poolies)