HARTLEPOOL United’s amazing FA Cup adventure is over after losing 2-0 at Crystal Palace.
Graeme Lee's side produced an incredible effort and there was no disgrace to go out at the 13th-placed Premier League side, who scored through Marc Guéhi and Michal Olise in the first half at a sold-out Selhurst Park.
Pools, cheered on by a 4,700-strong blue and white army in South London, had only a few sights of goal against a side 71 spots above them, with David Ferguson having their best chance early on but, to a man, they gave their all.
Londoner Ben Killip had a great game back in his home city, making a string of second-half saves.
While the fun is over for Graeme Lee’s team in the FA Cup, there should be great pride in their run which saw them take the higher-league scalps of Wycombe, Lincoln and Blackpool.
Lee made just one change to the side which fought a rearguard action at Exeter, with Bryn Morris filling the void left by Nicky Featherstone’s suspension.
It was a bold move given Morris has not played since late November, but the 25-year-old Poolie clearly relished the opportunity and performed well in the midfield, bringing a super diving save from Jack Butland in the second half.
Eagles boss Patrick Vieira, a multiple FA Cup winner in his career, made four changes to the side which gave Liverpool such a fright last time out, bringing in Jack Butland in goal, Martin Kelly at the back, skipper Luka Milivojevic in midfield and Eberechi Eze up top.
Eze, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Olise formed a very lively frontline though it was via a central defender that they took a fourth-minute lead.
Olise delivered a free-kick from the right with Guéhi left totally unchecked to calmly slot home past Killip.
Pools almost responded immediately when Jamie Sterry's right-wing delivery was met by Ferguson at the far post but Butland turned the header behind for a corner.
Eze was at the heart of much of the home attacking play, seeing a shot deflected for a corner and putting a free-kick over the bar after being brought down.
Palace though doubled their lead on 22 minutes through Olise.
Pools lost the ball just outside the box, and after Olise got the better of Croydon-born Timi Odusina, the gifted Londoner glided into the box and finished neatly with his left foot into Killip's left corner.
Killip produced a good save to keep out a blast by Joel Ward on 33 minutes while there was brief promise at the end of the half only for Omar Bogle to send a weak shot tricking wide of Butland’s left stick.
Pools had a huge let off early in the second half as Mateta first hit the post, with Ty Mitchell skying the rebound before Jeffrey Schlupp saw his screamer goes just wide.
Killip was earning his corn with a fine double save to thwart Olise and soon after produced an equally-good stop to foil Mateta.
Play was stopped on 54 minutes when the away fans drew attention to a medical emergency in the Pools section.
The Palace physio and other medical staff raced across the pitch to attend to he situation and when he went back to the dug-out five minutes later, he received applause from all sides of Selhurst Park.
Pools made a double change on the resumption with the two Joes, Grey and White, coming on for Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton.
There followed the best away period with a low Molyneux shot bringing a save from Butland at his near post.
Pools were not giving up and Morris strode forward to have a crack with Butland making a good diving save to his left from the long-range strike.
Killip was at it again in the 78th minute when he saved from Mateta’s powerful strike.
With the clock ticking down Sterry had two efforts, the first one close which brought a corner, the second skied into the crowd.
Pools might not have found the Palace net but were given a tremendous reception by their brilliant travelling support while thousands of home fans remained in the ground to give the away side a standing ovation their performance deserved.
Crystal Palace: Butland; Ward (Adaramola 86), Kelly, Guéhi, Mitchell (Clyne 70); Milivojevic, Gallagher, Shlupp (Hughes 70); Olise, Mateta (Benteke 79), Eze (Eduoard 70)
Subs (not used): Guaita, Ayew, Andersen, Sakyi
Goal: Guéhi 4, Olise 22
Pools: Killip; Byrne, Liddle (White 59), Odusina; Sterry, Shelton (Grey 59), Morris, Crawford (Holohan 82), Ferguson (Fletcher 90); Bogle (Cullen 90), Molyneux.
Subs (not used): Boyes, Ogle, Smith, Olomola
Booked: Holohan 90
Referee: Peter Bankes