HARTLEPOOL United were beaten for the third game on the bounce at Victoria Park as Tranmere Rovers left with a 2-0 victory.
Mick Wadsworth’s men were looking to build on Saturday’s 3-2 win at Chesterfield, their first in four attempts, but on a sodden night they failed to hit those heights and slipped to 10th in League One following the reverse.
Pools, though, were sharpest out of the blocks and only a finger-tipped save by Owain Fon-Williams, in diverting Nathan Luscombe’s 18-yard blast from James Poole’s pull-back over the crossbar, denied the hosts a second-minute lead.
They continued to dominate without the creation of any noteworthy openings but James Poole, two-goal hero at Chesterfield on Saturday, was again looking threatening.
It wasn’t until the 27th minute that they again took aim at the visiting target, Neil Austin going close with a 20-yard drive which flew inches wide of the post.
Some intricate approach play involving Evan Horwood and Andy Monkhouse then saw Poole presented with an opportunity just after the half-hour mark but he fired over from 14 yards, albeit from the narrowest of angles.
Rovers’ only chance of the first half saw Lucas Akins burn by Stephen Wright before drawing a low ball to the edge of the area, Adam McGurk connected sweetly but his steer was blocked by a sliding Austin.
Akins had been Tranmere’s chief threat and it was he who broke the deadlock just 24 seconds after the restart for the second half.
Scott Flinders had done well to repel McGurk’s stinging strike but the rangy winger was on hand to poke home the rebound from two yards out.
It could have been worse for Pools when Robbie Weir stole into the area unmarked only to poke haplessly wide from six yards on the hour mark.
But Akins made no mistake for his second seven minutes later when some woeful defending allowed the 22-year-old to turn home direct from McGurk’s long throw-in.
And that was how it stayed as Pools tried in vain to conjure a comeback, Adam Boyd’s 70th-minute shot, which was blocked on the line by Ash Taylor, the closest they came.