Pools Ease Through In Challenge Cup

Niko Muir, Hartlepool United v Tow Law Town

Niko Muir scored twice as Pools booked their place in Round Three of the Durham County Challenge Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Tow Law Town at Victoria Park on Tuesday night.

Jason Kennedy was also on target in between Muir’s brace to see Pools past their Northern League Division Two visitors with few scares.

The game started in scrappy fashion with neither side really creating too much in the way of clear-cut opportunities.

Pools had a half-chance when Coleby Shepherd sneaked in at the back post to meet a deep cross from the left but his volley fell on to the roof of the net.

Muir thought he had broken the deadlock when he headed on goal from six yards out but the ball was blocked on the line and the officials agreed it had not gone in.

However, the Pools front man was not to be denied and when Gavan Holohan was chopped down in the area, Muir showed composure to ram home the resultant penalty to make it 1-0.

The hosts began to assume more control after that; Romoney Crichlow-Noble’s shot from the edge of the box flashed just over, while Tow Law keeper Lewis Graham made a good finger-tip save to deny Holohan moments later.

Muir drilled an effort in from twenty yards which took a nick off a defender on its way in to the side-netting and then Holohan whipped a wicked effort from the right corner of the box which crashed out off the bar as Pools finished the first half strongly.

Dimi Konstantopoulos – in a Pools shirt once again after signing non-contract forms this week – rolled back the years with a fine save to his right to block a Stephen Ramsey header at the start of the second half.

However, Pools made a huge stride towards victory just after the hour when Nicke Kabamba’s overhead kick was blocked by a defender and Kennedy arrived to volley home the loose ball.

Holohan drove another effort just wide and young Joe Grey saw his driven shot from twenty yards turned round the post, while he almost made it 3-0 from the corner but he looped the ball just wide.

Kennedy had another shot blocked by the visiting keeper and substitute Adam Campbell nodded over from a right-wing corner as Pools continued to dominate.

Grey could have got on the scoresheet when he got time to shoot inside the area after Muir had charged down an attempted clearance but the keeper got across to his left to make a good save.

It was Muir who had the final say though; positive running from Shepherd saw the ball fed in to the striker on the edge of the box and he spun sharply before finishing low in to the bottom left corner.

Full Time: Pools 3 Tow Law Town 0

Pools: Konstantopoulos, Shepherd, Thompson, Cunningham, Crichlow-Noble, Webster, Kennedy, Holohan (Campbell 75), Kabamba (Leonard 75), Muir, Grey.
Subs not used: Lowerson, Willoughby, Pilling.

Booked: Kennedy.