Pools Youth Team suffered an agonising home defeat at the hands of Mansfield Town at Welfare Park in Blackhall on Saturday.
Ian McGuckin’s side knew they would be in for a difficult game against a physical Stags outfit who were looking to recover ground in the title race after three successive defeats.
An even start to the game saw both sides have their moments during the early stages, though clear-cut chances were at a premium in the first half.
Aaron Willoughby almost unlocked the visitors’ defence with a wicked delivery in to the area from wide but nobody in a Pools shirt could get a decisive touch and the ball flew across goal and wide.
Mansfield got their noses in front just before the break when Pools failed to deal with a corner delivered in to the six-yard area and, after a scramble in front of the line, the ball was forced in to the net for 1-0.
Pools came out with determination at the start of the second half and could have been on level terms when Josh Scott intercepted a pass and rounded the goalkeeper but he struck his shot wide from a tight angle.
With ten minutes remaining Pools were caught on the counter-attack as they pressed for a leveller and Town ran down the other end to slot home a second goal.
However, McGuckin’s side didn’t let their heads drop and they had renewed hope on 85 minutes when Coleby Shepherd whipped a free-kick in to the area which took a nick off a defender’s head and flew in to the net for an own goal.
And Pools could even have rescued a point deep in to stoppage time when Danny Boyle hit a powerful volley which came back off the inside of the post and Scott could only prod the rebound wide.
“It was a really disappointing result, especially because we started the game quite well,” McGuckin admitted.
“We knew what it was going to be all about against Mansfield and the lads stood up to the physical test for the most part but the goals we conceded were frustrating.
“To their credit, they kept going until the end though and we were really unlucky not to get that second goal back and what would have been a deserved point.”
Full Time: Pools 1 Mansfield Town 2
Pools: Young, Thompson, Webster, Boyle, Murphy, Miller, Willoughby (Pilling 85), Rennison (Shepherd 70), Scott, Fox, Pritchard (Leonard 70).
Subs not used: Roxburgh, Naylor.