FULL-TIME: Hartlepool United draw 0-0 at home to Portsmouth

Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United have climbed out of the bottom two of Sky Bet League Two after a hardfought draw at home to Portsmouth.

The game at Victoria Park finished goalless with neither side doing enough to take all three points.

Andy Awford’s Pompey side enjoyed the better of the first half and had four good chances to score but couldn’t take them.

It was a more even second half but clear cut chances were few and far between as Pools struggled to find their goalscoring form again.

But the point was, at least, enough to see Pools climb a place in the league.

Pre-match talk of protests inside Victoria Park didn’t materialise as the home side battled their way to another hardfought point at home.

Colin Cooper made two changes to his side with Michael Duckworth in at right-back in place of Jordan Richards, who dropped to the bench.

Meanwhile, up front on-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke started in place of Marlon Harewood.

Top scorer Wyke missed the 2-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle last weekend with concussion.

New loan signing, David Atkinson, from Boro started the game on the bench for Pools who lined up in a 4-4-2 formation against Pompey, who started the match in 11th.

It was a fairly even encounter in the opening stages as Pools - shooting towards the Town End in the first-half - looked to get back to winning ways after two defeats on the trot away from home.

The first chance of the game came in the 8th minute and Pompey should have taken the lead through Patrick Agyemang.

The burly striker volleyed the ball wide from six-yards out when he had the whole goal gaping. It was a poor miss and a let-off for Cooper’s side.

Ryan Brobbel and Wyke then teamed up well inside the Pompey penalty area, but the winger fired his shot high over the bar.

There was a slight stoppage in place to allow James Dunne to get some treatment for a collision of heads with Jonathan Franks. The Pompey midfielder was soon subbed in place of Nigel Atangana.

In between that Pools displayed some comical defending, three chances to clear the ball were missed before the ball was whipped across the face of Scott Flinders goal.

Craig Westcarr blasted the ball high over the bar from eight-yards out, again he should have scored and Pools were living dangerously.

A lack of communication from Matthew Bates and Flinders in the 19th minute resulted in a Pompey corner, which Jack Whatmough should have scored from.

His effort was blocked by Flinders from close range.

Pools saw more of the ball as the first-half wore on and Duckworth saw a sight of goal in the 30th minute.

He dribbled his way into the box but his fierce strike was well blocked by Whatmough for a corner.

It was a tight, edgy affair but Pompey - backed by hundreds of travelling supporters - had created the clearer chances of the first-half so far.

Wyke impressed again up front, with his touch and hold up play but Pools were struggling to create clear cut opportunities.

In the 42nd minute, Walker had a sidefooted shot from the edge of the area blocked.

Cooper was dealt an injury blow in the final minute of the half, Compton having to go off after pulling a muscle in his leg. Darren Holden came on as his replacement.

Jed Wallace saw his low drive from the edge of the area blocked by Duckworth for a corner as the first-half came to a close.

Half-Time: Pools 0 Pompey 0

Pools had the first chance of the second half, Brobbel fizzing one just wide of the left-hand post from distance.

Up the other end moments later Flinders was called on to save smartly from Westcarr who found himself free on the right-hand side of the box.

The onrushing stopper made himself big and smothered the shot well.

Wallace then curled a free-kick from 25-yards inches wide of the left-post.

Pompey made their second sub of the day in the 61st minute, with Westcarr - who had missed a couple of gilt-edged chances - hooked with on-loan Aston Villa striker Michael Drennan coming on.

Chances were hard to come by for both sides, with Pools, in particular, getting into some good positions but wasting the opportunity to take advantage.

In the 71st minute, Duckworth was bundled over on the edge of the Pompey penalty area after some tricky footwork.

Brobbel stepped up to take the free-kick but his effort was deflected over the bar for a corner.

Cooper turned to his bench in the 77th minute, with the ineffective Franks taken off to be replaced by Marlon Harewood.

There was a warm reception for the former Premier League frontman, with fans desperate for him to inspire Pools to victory.

In the 80th minute, Walker hit a shot into the ground and it popped up nicely for Wyke eight yards out but he could only head it over the bar.

Moments later Harewood then rashly shot wide from a tight angle inside the area.

Jed Wallace was given the freedom of The Vic in the 84th minute, eventually he got a shot away from the edge of the penalty area but it was comfortably saved by Flinders.

Two minutes later and Wallace again was given the freedom to shoot, he didn’t get much power on it though and Flinders saved.

Brobbel had a sight on goal in the 88th minute, his low attempt was blocked for a corner.

Pools were on the front foot for the final few minutes but it was Wallace for Pompey that almost snatched it.

His powerful effort from the right-hand side of the area was well-saved by Flinders, who had Drennan running in towards him.

And that was the final action of the day as Pools and Pompey played out a goalless draw.

Full-Time: Pools 0 Pompey 0

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Duckworth, Bates (C), Harrison, Austin, Brobbel, Miller, Walker, Compton (Holden, 44), Franks (Harewood, 77), Wyke.

Subs Not Used: Woodman, Richards, Hawkins, Atkinson, Woods.

Portsmouth (3-5-2): Jones, Devera, Robinson, Whatmough, Wynter, Wallace, Dunne (Atangana, 14), Hollands (C), Butler, Agyemang (Barcham, 79), Westcarr (Drenan, 61).

Subs Not Used: Poke, Webster, Barcham, Ertl, Shorey.

Booked: Wynter.

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Attendance: 3,439 (501 Portsmouth)