Pools’ Durham County Challenge Cup campaign came to an end at the semi-final stage as a young side was beaten 2-0 by Shildon at The Super 6 Stadium on Tuesday night.
Only two senior players were in the line-up for Pools but hopes remained high that the side – led by John Hewitson – could rise to the challenge against their Northern League Division One visitors.
There was an early opening for Pools when Hawkins sprung the offside trap but he couldn’t get his shot away cleanly and some determined defending from the visitors denied Josh Scott on the follow-up.
Some great play in the midfield set Pools away on the counter-attack to create the next opening; Hawkins scampered down the right flank before lifting a good ball in to Scott at the far post but his header dropped wide.
Nathan Steel could have put Shildon in front when he did well to receive the ball back to goal inside the penalty area but, as he turned to fire on goal, the Pools defence closed in and his shot deflected wide for a corner.
It was from that resultant set-piece that the Northern League side went in front on 19 minutes as the ball was swung in from the right and former Pools player Billy Greulich-Smith got his head to it to glance it home from close range.
Another former Poolie Matty Robson almost created a second for Shildon when he drove in a cross from the left but Nathan Steel headed wide, while Brad Fox saw his long-range effort at the other end held by visiting keeper Shaun Newbrook.
Ryan Catterick had to be at his best to deny Shildon just before the break when an intricate move found Bradley Hird just inside the box but the Pools keeper brilliantly parried his powerful drive before the winger wastefully fired the rebound in to the side-netting.
Brad Fox fired a snapshot over the bar from the edge of the box and Scott glanced a header on goal that was easily claimed by the keeper but Shildon took their one-goal lead in to the break.
A superb run from full-back Harrison Webster put Shildon on the back foot in the opening minutes of the second half but when he laid the ball back across goal Coleby Shepherd couldn’t keep his shot down.
Pools grew in stature as the second half developed and began to pin Shildon back, Hawkins coming close to finding a leveller on the end of a lovely move but his well-struck drive from twenty yards struck one of his own players and the visitors cleared.
More good football saw substitute Liam Pritchard presented with an opportunity – the ball was worked across to him on the right and his first touch took him away from the defender and in to the box but his second was a left-foot shot sent just too high.
Webster was next to have a go on goal when he drove forward down the left flank before skilfully checking inside but his right-foot shot was straight at Newbrook and he held it comfortably.
Bradley Hird then broke against the run of play to draw a fine save from Ryan Catterick but, as Pools looked to clear the danger, Shildon worked it back in to the feet of Hird and this time he rammed an unstoppable finish in to the net to make it 2-0 with little over ten minutes remaining.
Full Time: Pools 0 Shildon 2
Pools: Catterick, Naylor, Murphy, Miller, Webster, Boyle, Willoughby (Pritchard 63), Hawkins, Shepherd (Leonard 79), Scott, Fox.
Subs not used: Thompson, James, Pilling.
Shildon: Newbrook, Ellison, Robson, Duell, Curl, Heywood, Greulich-Smith, Trotter, Atkinson (Johnson 92), Steel (Moore 60), Hird (Hurworth 86).
Subs not used: Hudson, Waters.