Hartlepool United Women exited the FA Cup in the third qualifying round as they fell to a 3-1 defeat in a close game at Gateshead. Pools created plenty of chances which they failed to convert and a Robyn Foster consolation goal came too late to spark a comeback.
Gateshead came out of the blocks flying and took the lead eight minutes in. Despite protests of offside from the Pools defence, Sharon Bell was found in space inside the box to beat an onrushing Lauren Ranson to the ball and slide a finish into the back of the net.
Pools fought back and created some positive opportunities throughout the first half. Hannah Dixon took aim from 18 yards with a stinging effort that required two hands from Gateshead goalkeeper Carly Salmon to push it wide. Atalia Robinson also tried her luck from range which required another smart stop by the Heed number one.
Craig Bage's side continued to press and were unlucky not to level in the 36th minute. Foster did well to work her way into the box before fizzing a cross across goal - Zara Johnson stretched to meet it but was unable to connect.
Gateshead took the initiative and doubled their lead just before half-time. After a weak clearance by Pools, Bell again beat the offside trap to slot past Ranson for her second of the game.
The hosts continued to assert themselves in the early stages of the second half. Bell netted again but was deemed to be offside. The Heed forward was not to be denied for long though as she completed her hat-trick in the 62nd minute. Olivia Black's intelligent pass sent the number nine through and she made no mistake, slotting into the bottom corner.
Pools enjoyed most of the play after Gateshead's third goal and were unfortunate not to have converted more of their chances. Laura Keogh went agonisingly close to her first Pools goal, being denied by an excellent close-range save by the goalkeeper.
Johnson also flicked a shot wide while Jade Pye headed against the crossbar. Johnson went even closer in the 88th minute as her goalbound shot was turned over the crossbar after a block by Gateshead's Chloe Sharp.
Hartlepool deserved at least a consolation for their attacking efforts and they found it in injury time. Pye sent through Foster and the Pools number seven made no mistake, firing into the bottom corner.
The referee blew for full time soon after, eliminating Pools from the FA Cup and leaving Craig Bage's side to lament their lack of luck in front of goal. Pools now turn their attention to league duties with a trip to Hull United next weekend.