A GOAL from former Hartlepool United striker Danny Nardiello was enough to give Bury FC all three points in tonight’s Sky Bet League Two encounter with Pools.
Nardiello struck in the 48th minute to give the Shakers all three points and send a disappointed Pools back to the North East.
It was a bad night for Colin Cooper’s men, who never really got going and managed just two shots on target all night.
The Shakers enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes and went close on three occasions but Pools managed to hold firm at a sparse Gigg Lane and could have had a penalty.
But then Nardiello then delivered the sucker punch three minutes after the re-start, his shot from the edge of the right hand side of the penalty area evading everyone.
Cooper made just one change for the match, with winger Jonathan Franks coming in for the suspended Andy Monkhouse, who picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 2-0 win over Northampton Town on Saturday,
On-loan Middlesbrough defender Matty Dolan retained his place in the centre of midfield after having his loan deal extended this morning, while Young left-back Darren Holden returned to the squad and was on the bench.
The Shakers, managed by caretaker boss Ronnie Jepson, named ex-Pools players Tommy Miller and Danny Nardiello in their starting eleven.
It was the home side that had the better of the opening five minutes.
Miller’s strong header from a corner was well held by Scott Flinders, while the Pools stopper was again called into action in the 6th minute easily saving Nardiello’s weak attempt at a lob.
It took Pools until the 15th minute to create a chance of note, James Poole controlling Franks’ cross with his knee before turning and firing a half-volley at Brian Jensen’s goal, but his effort was deflected.
The first shot on target came three minutes later, Simon Walton’s whipped free-kick was fierce but easily held by big Jensen in the home goal.
But it was the side from Greater Manchester that looked the more dangerous, with Miller dictating play in the centre of midfield and Nardiello and Danny Hylton looking dangerous on the break.
Pools had a penalty appeal in the 27th minute, last-man Shaun Beeley with a clumsy challenge on James Poole on the edge of the area but referee Mark Heywood, the same ref from Saturday, waved it away.
Cooper’s side started the game slowly, not for the first time this season, but they edged back into it with Poole getting on the ball more in the final third.
Defender Christian Burgess found himself free in the area in the 32nd minute to connect with a header from Dolan’s cross.
But the assistant had already flagged for offside before the on-loan Middlesbrough defender connected.
Former Crystal Palace midfielder Tom Soares tested Flinders a minute later but the big stopper was equal to it as the Shakers continued to pile on the pressure.
Their best chance came in the 40th minute, a deep cross from the left flank from Chris Sedgwick found winger Craig Jones at the back stick but he poked the ball just wide.
Pools should certainly have had a free-kick on the edge of the area in the 40th minute, William Edjenguele trampled all over James but the referee again waved away the appeals from the Pools players, bench and fans.
Jensen then fumbled a Dolan corner but no Pools player was on hand to take advantage.
HALF TIME: BURY 0 POOLS 0
Pools started the second half even slower than they started the first and within three minutes of the re-start Nardiello, on-loan from Rotherham United, had put the home side in front.
In the 48th minute, the former Pools striker was given space to turn on the edge of the area before firing a speculative left-footed shot towards goal.
The shot evaded Jack Baldwin and Christian Burgess in the box and Flinders in goal to find the corner of the net and give the Shakers the lead.
Nardiello, who spent five months on loan at Pools in 2009 scoring three goals in eight games, wheeled away in celebration.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Pools and they struggled to get on the ball against a pressing Bury side.
Cooper turned to the subs bench in the 66th minute, bringing on Brad Walker and Jordan Richards for the subdued Dolan and Compton, although in truth it could have been any of the outfield players that were hooked.
It was a flat and subdued performance from Pools, who looked well off the pace and hadn’t registered a shot on target in the second half.
There was mis-kicks and mis-passes galore as Pools struggled to have any impact on the game.
Nialle Rodney was bought on in the 76th minute for winger Jonathan Franks as Cooper reverted to a more traditional 4-4-2, with Poole pushed wide left.
Soares should have put the Shakers 2-0 up in the 78th minute but his side-footed attempt was deflected just wide of Flinders’ left-hand post for a corner.
Pools had their best chance of the game in the 86th minute, Luke James burst free down the left hand side past Edjenguele, made it to the touchline before crossing the ball towards the penalty spot over Jensen’s head.
Dean Howell was on hand to hook the ball clear from just in front of the goal line and away for a corner.
It said a lot about their overall performance that what was effectively a half-chance was their best opportunity of the game.
Pools, to their credit, did continue to push forward but were unable to penetrate the Bury back line, who held on for all three points.
FULL TIME: BURY 1 POOLS 0
Hartlepool United: Flinders; Austin; Burgess; Baldwin; Duckworth; Walton; Dolan (Walker, 66); Franks; Compton (Richards, 66); Poole; James.
Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Collins; Sweeney; Holden; Rodney.
Bury FC: Jensen; Beeley; Cameron (Hinds, 88); Jones; Miller; Sedgwick; Nardiello (Harrad, 80); Soares; Howell; Hylton; Edjenguele.
Subs Not Used: Holden; Mayor; Reindorf; Navas; Lainton.
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire).
Attendance: 1,998. (Pools 191)