FULL-TIME REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Colchester United 0

ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks
ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks

HARTLEPOOL United were frustrated by 10-man Colchester United as tonight’s relegation face-off finished goalless at Victoria Park.

The U’s – just two points outside the League One drop zone going into the game – were reduced in number at the end of the first half when striker Jabo Ibehre was shown a straight red following a dangerous lunge on Neil Austin.

But Pools were unable to break down the dogged visitors despite spending the bulk of the second half camped in opposition territory.

The point takes John Hughes’ men to within seven of safety with the visit of Yeovil Town to come on Saturday.

Pools were wasteful in possession early on and Peter Hartley presented George Porter with a sight at goal but the winger hammered straight at Scott Flinders.

Within 60 seconds Pools were on the offensive and James Poole poked wide from 12 yards after Jon Franks had escaped down the left flank and centred.

Poole turned provider for Jack Baldwin on 25 minutes when wriggling free of three gold shirts and rolling to his team-mate 20 yards out, his first-time blast being smothered by Sam Walker.

But Baldwin was forced off soon after with an ankle problem having landed heavily inside his own area when climbing to clear, Nathan Luscombe his replacement.

Ibehre was then given his marching orders two minutes shy of the half-time for the challenge on Austin which was both late and high.

But Pools were slow out of the blocks after the interval and the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was an 18-yard hook from Poole which lobbed harmlessly over the crossbar on 50 minutes.

By the hour mark, however, the hosts had raised the tempo and Charlie Wyke was denied inside the six-yard area by the desperate attempts of Walker and defender Magnus Okuonghae, the pair just doing enough to scramble clear.

Wyke then saw a header blocked inside the goalmouth and Poole likewise.

The latter was proving the chief goal threat and his stinging strike from range was diverted onto the crossbar by the airborne Walker on 68 minutes.

The home fans had to wait until stoppage-time for their next moment of excitement when Luscombe burst into the area but his low strike was blocked by the shins of Walker.

See website later tonight for slideshow and see your Mail tomorrow for match report, reaction and pictures