Hartlepool United will require a replay to decide who progresses to the second round of the FA Cup after drawing 2-2 with National League outfit Solihull Moors at the ARMCO Stadium.
Top scorer Josh Umerah and substitute Jack Hamilton scored either side of Andrew Dallas’ leveller, but Joe Sbarra’s late strike denied Pools the win.
It was Solihull who began the brightest, though they failed to challenge Ben Killip in the opening 15 minutes; Josh Kelly came closest after a powerful drive through the centre, but his shot trickled towards the Pools’ shot-stopper for an easy save.
Callum Maycock saw his shot blocked by Nicky Featherstone in the 11th minute before Dallas scuffed his effort out for a goal kick just three minutes later.
Keith Curle’s side were soaking up the pressure nicely, and in the 18th minute they forced their way in front through a well-worked counter attack. After a series of progressive passes, the ball fell to the feet of Umerah in the Solihull penalty area who lashed his effort home from close range, grabbing his eighth of the season and Hartlepool’s first of the afternoon.
Less than a minute later, Umerah could have bagged a brace. The 25-year-old beautifully controlled the ball in the area following Callum Cooke’s over-the-top pass, Umerah then attempted to chip onrushing goalkeeper Ryan Boot, but his effort hit the crossbar to deny what would have been an excellent goal.
There was little to shout about for the remainder of the first half, although both sides saw chances squandered. For the hosts, Sbarra and Dallas both had shots blocked from close range in the 22nd minute. Twelve minutes later, Theo Robinson went close with a header for Pools but it flew just over the bar.
The intensity stepped up a notch in the second half with the match becoming extremely end-to-end.
Featherstone took aim from just outside of the area in the 48th minute, his deflected strike forcing a great save from Boot to tip it over the crossbar for a corner, just before Solihull equalised through a counter-attack of their own.
Dallas was the recipient of a well-hit long ball and strode through on goal with just the keeper to beat. Killip rushed out to put the forward under pressure, but Dallas took it past Pools’ goalkeeper and finished into an empty net.
Robinson forced Boot into another fine save in the 66th minute, his header had the Solihull ‘keeper at full-stretch to tip it over for a corner.
Curle’s men then regained their lead four minutes later as, fresh from the bench, Jack Hamilton rose highest to plant home his header from a corner and send the travelling Poolies into raptures.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Solihull talisman Sbarra levelled things once more for the hosts with six minutes to go. After squandering two chances in close succession beforehand, the former Burton Albion man was waiting in the area ready to pounce as Ben Coker’s effort was parried into his path, leaving him an easy finish from close range.
Due to the game ending all square, Hartlepool will now host Solihull in a First Round Proper replay at the Suit Direct Stadium; the date and time will be announced when possible
Ryan Boot; Ben Coker, Fiacre Kelleher, Kyle Storer, James Clarke; Alex Gudger, Joe Sbarra, Callum Maycock; Andrew Dallas, Josh Kelly, Ryan Barnett.
Ben Killip; Reghan Tumilty, Alex Lacey [Ellis Taylor 88’], Euan Murray, Clarke Oduor; Callum Cooke, Nicky Featherstone, Mohamed Sylla; Wes McDonald [Jake Hastie 78’], Theo Robinson [Jack Hamilton 66’], Josh Umerah [Joe Grey 66’].