Josh Hawkes netted his second senior goal as Pools claimed a creditable and potentially crucial point against Sutton United at The Knights Community Stadium on Saturday.
The young midfielder dragged Pools level with a sweet finish just before the half hour to cancel out Ross Lafayette’s early opener and help move Matthew Bates men five points clear of the National League danger zone.
Bates had opted to make one change to his starting eleven with Ryan Donaldson making his first start since October at the expense of Rhys Oates who had to be content with a place on the bench, alongside Scott Harrison who returned as a substitute after hamstring trouble.
The hosts were out of the traps quickest and Harry Beautyman fired a warning shot from twenty-five yards which swerved in difficult fashion but Scott Loach did well to block with a strong right hand.
However, it was only a brief reprieve because The U’s were in front on 9 minutes when a left-wing free kick found Lafayette at the front post and he headed in his second goal since returning from a loan spell at Maidstone United.
The goal lifted the home side even further and they were backed by a noisy crowd as they went in search of a second goal in the Surrey sunshine.
Former Middlesbrough man Nicky Bailey created the next opening after winning the ball on the right side of the box but his powerful cross was headed over by Tommy Wright at the front post.
Top scorer Wright came even closer minutes later when he found space on the right of the box, cut inside on his left foot and drilled a low shot towards the near post which Loach did well to turn wide.
On 26 minutes Pools managed to drag themselves level against the run of play when Michael Woods swung a cross in from the right which fell loose to Josh Hawkes twelve yards out and the young midfielder struck a crisp low show which was past keeper Jamie Butler before he could react.
It was a little more even after that but Sutton continued to carry the greater threat; danger man Lafayette barged his way through on the edge of the area but Loach got out quickly and blocked his shot.
A low ball was delivered in to the Pools penalty area from the right which was met by Beautyman on the slide at the front post and diverted goalwards but Loach scrambled across to paw it clear as it looked to be sneaking in to the bottom corner.
Loach was by far the busier of the two keepers and he had more work to do when Lafayette again bundled his way in to space but this time the Pools shot-stopper got down low at the striker’s feet and did enough to avert the danger.
It was a less open second half and Sutton struggled to create the same volume of chances, Eastmond tried to force an effort on goal but Pools closed down well and a deflection took most of the sting off the shot.
Pools grew in to the game as it wore on and began to look more of a threat, particularly upon the introduction of Rhys Oates from the bench whose pace worried the home defence.
Sutton substitute Ross Stearn almost had a decisive say when he drove wide from long-range, while Lafayette headed over wastefully from six yards after a good ball in from the left.
Adams whipped a dangerous corner in from the right which was met by Louis Laing but he couldn’t get enough on the header and it flashed across goal and wide.
Bailey thundered an effort over the bar as Sutton pressed in the latter stages and Lafayette almost snatched the points with the last kick after nudging his way through again but Pools held out and extended their unbeaten run away from home to four games.
Full Time: Sutton United 1 Pools 1
Sutton United: Butler, Thomas, Beckwith, Davis (Stearn 69), Lafayette, Eastmond, Bailey, Thomas, Wright (Cadogan 69), Beautyman, Harrison (Taylor 82).
Subs not used: John, Dundas.
Pools: Loach, Hawkins, Laing, Magnay, Adams, Featherstone, Newton, Hawkes (Rodney 75), Woods (Harrison 91), Cassidy, Donaldson (Oates 58).
Subs: Catterick, Munns.
Booked: Magnay (Foul, 68).
Attendance: 2,272 (210 Poolies)