Hartlepool United Women fell to defeat late on against Wallsend despite a spirited effort on their trip to North Tyneside. Hartlepool went ahead in the 48th minute through Chelsea Basnett but two strikes in the final 10 minutes prevented Pools from picking up their second league win of the season.
Pools started with positivity and took the game to their promotion-chasing opponents right from the off. Robyn Foster took aim from distance with a shot that went wide while Basnett tested the Wallsend goalkeeper with a low effort from the edge of the box.
Wallsend were always likely to threaten and fought back with opportunities of their own. Pools’ debutant goalkeeper, Ella Field, reacted well in the 15th minute to tip a shot from close-range onto the post.
The first half continued with chances for both sides. Steph Bilcliff had two chances for Hartlepool, going closest after finding herself on the end of a flowing Pools attack but seeing her shot saved. The two teams went into the break level, with Pools heartened by an improved performance and more than matching Wallsend.
The breakthrough came for Hartlepool three minutes after the restart. Foster delivered a corner into the box and the ball fell to Basnett who hooked the ball into the back of the net at close-range.
Pools then had chances to double their advantage. A terrific double save by the Wallsend goalkeeper denied Foster’s effort from inside the box and then prevented Anya Geary from netting the rebound.
In the other goal, Field was in no mood to be beaten and produced a string of fine saves to keep Hartlepool in front. With 10 minutes left to play, it looked as though Pools would hang on to claim their first victory since October.
Sadly for Pools, the hosts drew level in the 86th minute, benefitting as a depleted Hartlepool squad began to tire. A powerful free-kick from 25 yards out was hit high by Michaela Sewell, beyond the reach of Field, to equalise.
A cruel twist was left in the game. Wallsend took aim from 30 yards in injury time and struck the woodwork - the rebound was prodded over the line by Sewell to give the hosts the lead.
Pools still had chances to try and reclaim the point that their performance deserved. Mae Rackstraw and Jade Pye both took opportunities from close-range but failed to scramble the ball into the Wallsend goal. The result will be a tough one to take for Pools but a committed display will provide optimism ahead of a crucial home tie against Hull next Sunday.
Pools: Field, Charlie Geary, Johnson, Stuart, Garside, Portas, Pye, Basnett (Rackstraw 83), Anya Geary, Foster, Bilcliff