When Pools were a match for high-flying Swansea

John McGinley evades a tackle from Swansea veteran Tommy Hutchinson.
John McGinley evades a tackle from Swansea veteran Tommy Hutchinson.
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Promotion chasing Swansea City came away from the Victoria Ground with a valuable point - but Hartlepool United were very much their equals in this close-fought encounter.

Only one moment of indiscretion cost them a victory in this January 1987 match where they could have had it tied up early on if they had taken their many chances.

Tony Smith causes problems for the Swansea defence.

Tony Smith causes problems for the Swansea defence.

But even so, Pools fans went home from this match with the feeling that their team was on the up.

Pools enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and restricted Swansea to rare breaks out of defence. They got off to the ideal start with a goal after five minutes.

On-loan winger John McGinley, making his debut for Hartlepool, swung a corner to the near post where Tony Smith flicked on neatly. Top scorer Kevin Dixon stole in at the back post and headed firmly home.

Pools’ attacking intent continued and Dixon went close to a second. It had appeared to be an ambitious shot on the turn when he first struck it.

Pool might have had the game won in the opening half hour when they resticted Swansea to rare breaks out of defence

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1987

The ball appeared to be sailing well over the Swansea bar but it dipped over the head of the visiting keeper. However, it went just wide of the far post.

As Pools continued to press, Dean Gibb played a great ball with the outside of his foot into the path of Marty Hewitt and his shot just cleared the crossbar.

Swansea started to come more into the match. Smith recovered just in time from a mistake to divert a ball for a corner.

Emmanuel tried an overhead kick but was penalised for dangerous play. Yet Pools keeper Eddie Blackburn was only called into serious action on the 30 minute mark when Colin Pascoe jinked past a couple of players before laying the ball off to McCarthy. The hurried shot, though, was directed straight at the keeper.

As the half came to a close, Swansea went close again with a 12-yard shot, blocked by a combination of Smith and Barrett.

The second half began a lot like the first with Pools dominant. Hewitt and Gibb both showed attacking intent but with moves which came to nothing.

Kevin Dixon looked the most dangerous player and made a fine break down the right, crossing for Dean Gibb who just failed to connect on the far post.

The match began to turn when Dixon took a knock to the heel and had to be substituted.

Swansea equalised almost immediately when Paul Atkinson took advantage of a mistake in the Pools defence and drove a shot into the top corner.

The game became an end-to-end affair. Andrews should have scored for Swansea from six yards out but Keith Nobbs got across to make a saving tackle.

In the last minute, Brian Honour went close with a shot that flew inches wide. At the other end, Blackburn was tested by a drive from Swansea player Emmanuel.

But in the end, it was all-square at the final whistle.

Hartlepool United: Blackburn, Smithies, McKinnon, Nobbs, Smith, Hogan, Barrett, Hewitt, Gibb, Dixon, McGinley. Sub; Honour.

Swansea City: Hughes, harrison, Phelan, Lewis, Melville, Emmanuel, Atkinson, McCarthy, Andrews, Pascoe, Hutchinson. Sub; Williamson.

Attendance 1,814.

Referee: Trelford Mills.