FULL-TIME REPORT: Bournemouth 1 Pools 1

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HARTLEPOOL United were within 90 seconds of a valiant victory at a sun-soaked Dean Court only to concede a stoppage-time equaliser.

Leading thanks to Simon Walton’s second-half penalty, Neale Cooper’s men were on course for the perfect smash-and-grab raid as the game entered its final throes.

But a 93rd-minute leveller from substitute Matt Tubbs meant that Pools emerged with just one point rather than a deserved maximum.

Cooper had switched formation to a more defensive 4-5-1 in a bid to combat the Cherries’ attacking threat and it was a ploy which worked during a somewhat mundane first half.

The first sight at goal belonged to Pools but Walton’s 20-yard volley was deflected into the arms of a backpedalling Shwan Jalal on seven minutes.

That was the closest either side came to fashioning a chance inside what was a subdued opening half hour.

The hosts, however, did threaten to break the deadlock on 31 minutes but Hary Arter’s downward header, from a Simon Francis centre, bounced up and over the crossbar with Scott Flinders scrambling.

The same player took aim at the visiting target soon after but Flinders was equal to his low, 25-yard drive.

Arter turned provider for Josh McQuoid just before half-time when his corner-kick was flashed narrowly wide by the head of the forward.

But it remained goalless entering the break with a smattering of boos emanating from the home crowd.

Cherries boss Paul Groves reacted with a double substitution five minute after the restart with attacking duo Marc Pugh and Charlie Daniels entering the fray.

That prompted a response from the hosts and Pools had Jack Baldwin to thank for his goalmouth block from Lewis Grabban’s net-bound smash on 53 minutes.

The opening 15 minutes of the second period offered more by way of offensive action than the entire first half, Pools forward Steve Howard next to have a go but his header skipped wide of Jalal’s target.

Substitute Pugh tried his luck from range on 66 minutes but his curled effort was never threatening the visiting goal.

And the breakthrough arrived on 73 minutes when Evan Horwood was tugged to the ground as he burst into the penalty area.

Referee Fred Graham pointed to the spot and Walton duly converted, sending Jalal the wrong way with a cool, side-footed tuck into the bottom corner.

But within minutes Pools had to call upon Flinders to preserve their lead when he blocked Grabban’s low smash only for Tubbs to head wide from the rebound with the goal gaping.

Tubbs, however, made no mistake in injury-time when, seizing upon a loose ball inside the area, he slotted beyond the exposed Flinders to salvage a draw.