Barnet 3 Hartlepool 2: Another defensive collapse for Pools

Nathan Thomas.
Nathan Thomas.

Barnet came from two goals down to see off 10-man Hartlepool United at The Hive.

Pools cruised into a comfortable two goal lead, courtesy of Nathan Thomas and Padraig Amond.

But having seen Liam Donnelly dismissed, a penalty from John Akinde reduced the arears, Luke Gambin levelled the substitute Shaun Batt proved the match-winner.

Having taken some stick in the week for the side's defensive collapse against Leyton Orient boss Hignett made just the one change from the side beaten at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium last week.

Scott Harrison came back into the back four, with Jordan Richards dropping out. Liam Donnelly switched from the centre to right-back.

Despite all of the talk of clear the air defensive chats and video shaming sessions, Pools almost gifted Barnet the opener with barely 90 seconds on the clock. A cross from the right landed on the head of danger-man and League Two top-scorer John Akinde, but instead of steering home, as he has become accustomed to in recent weeks, he headed within range of Trevor Carson, who palmed up in the air. Harrison completed the job, heading off the line.

After that early let off Pools began to settle into the encounter. Lewis Hawkins started to get on the ball and dictate proceedings, with Thomas on the left a constant thorn in the hosts' side, as too was Lewis Alessandra on the other side.

It was the in-form summer signing who had the first effort of meaning from a Pools' perspective, anyway. His low effort skidded off the freshly-watered turf and went inches past Josh Vickers' post.

And as Alessandra went close, Thomas had to go one better, as the pair linked up for the opener.

On the ground where he netted in a 3-1 victory last year Thomas rolled the ball into Alessandra who rolled it back, and Thomas curled a rasping effort through a host of bodies and into Vickers' net.

It was a lead Pools fully deserved having been camped in the home half for much of the opening half hour.

Having missed a one-on-one last week, Alessandra again had the chance to double Pools' lead when he was set free, but this time instead of trying to round the keeper, he hit it early, but the result was the same with Vickers dealing with it comfortably.

Having dominated the opening 45, Pools were almost pegged. And again, it was from a set-piece. This time Michael Nelson almost nodded in from 12 yards, but his towering header skidded just wide.

But it was Pools who took total control of this one when Thomas' cross from the left was nodded home by Amond for his sixth of the season.

Two goals up and cruising, surely Pools could not lose this one from here?

Well, the contrived to do just that.

Liam Donnelly was adjudged to have brought down Akinde in the area and was given a straight red card for the offence. The big frontman picked himself up to slot home from the spot.

The things went from bad to worse for Hignett's men when Thomas had to be stretchered off with a serious injury.

Shaken from that blow, Pools switched off at the back to allow Barnet a leveller. A cross from the left by Gambin looped over the head of Carson and into the far corner.

Just 10 minutes after Barnet's first goal they turned the game on its head and edged in front - Batt finished from close range as Pools, yet again, collapsed under pressure at the back.

And from that moment on, a man and a goal down, Pools never really looked like getting back into it, on what was yet another tough day at the office for Hignett and his players.