FULL-TIME REPORT: Hartlepool United pick up a point after goalless draw with Tranmere Rovers

Colin Cooper.
Colin Cooper.

HARTLEPOOL United picked up a hard-fought point after a goalless draw at home to Tranmere Rovers in Sky Bet League Two.

Rob Edwards’ side had the better of the chances but didn’t do enough to find a way past the Pools defence or Scott Flinders at a sun-kissed Victoria Park.

Clear chances were few and far between for Colin Cooper’s side but they defended well and deserved a point, to build on last weekend’s 2-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.

Cooper had made just one change to his team for the match.

In came Jordan Richards for Stuart Parnaby, who missed out with a hamstring injury. Regular right-back Michael Duckworth is also still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Rovers lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, while Cooper once again named wingers Jack Compton and Ryan Brobbel in his team, which lined up in an attacking 4-4-2 formation.

On-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke again partnered Jonathan Franks up front, with Marlon Harewood again named on the bench.

It was another bright start for Cooper’s side with Brobbel - who this week extended his loan spell from Middlesbrough by a further four weeks - probing down the right flank.

The first real sight of goal fell to the away side in the 9th minute.

Rovers forward Cole Stockton out-muscled Scott Harrison near the six-yard box but flashed his shot across the face of goal and out from danger.

It was a lively encounter but Rovers should have taken the lead in the 12th minute.

Richards’ pass back to Flinders was short and Stockton found himself in on goal but the onrushing Scott Flinders managed to make himself big and smother the shot, with Brad Walker hooking the ball out.

The pace of the game settled as it entered the 20th minute but it was Rovers doing all the attacking.

In the 21st minute, Stockton had his third effort of the match but his free header from a Marc Laird cross was straight into the grateful hands of Flinders.

Brobbel had a difficult chance in the 25th minute, getting himself on the end of a Wyke knock-down into the six-yard area but under pressure he fired his shot over the bar.

Pools were sitting deep and letting Rovers dictate proceedings but Pools did have the ability to hit them on the counter attack.

With 34 minutes gone, Janoi Donacien headed wide from another Rovers corner as the away side looked to make their possession count.

One of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came after a solid piece of defending from Sunderland loanee Scott Harrison - the defender again impressing at the back.

Seven minutes before the break, Flinders had to be alert to comfortably tip over a Matt Hill free-kick from 25-yards.

Pools captain Matthew Bates was booked for retaliating after a clash with Stockton.

Stockton had the last chance of the first half, firing just wide of the left-hand post from outside of the penalty area with Flinders diving to his right.

Half-Time: Pools 0 Tranmere Rovers 0

The second-half started in much the same way as the first ended, with Rovers on the ascendency.

In the 53rd minute, Laird found himself free inside the penalty area but his diving header from eight-yards out onto a Abdulai Baggie cross was well, well wide of the right-hand post.

Pools, sparked by some good play from Brobbel down the right flank, then had a shot on target courtesy of Jonathan Franks.

But his clever flick from a Compton cut back was blocked by the Rovers defence in the 59th minute.

In the 65th minute, the ball fell kindly to Baggie inside the penalty area on the right-hand side but he flashed his shot wide of the left post.

It was another warning to Pools, who were living dangerously at Victoria Park.

In the 71st minute - moments before Marlon Harewood came on for Franks - Rovers hit the crossbar thanks to a well-struck Baggie effort.

The ball cannoned up and over.

Harewood was Cooper’s first sub of the afternoon, on the 71st minute and he looked pumped up as he entered the fray.

But it was soon backs to the wall again for Pools, with the ball spending too much time in the air.

Rovers dangerman Baggie went off injured in the 78th minute, which was a boost to Pools as he had been their star player, in the second half especially.

In the 83rd minute, Cooper made a double substitution with Brobbel and Compton taken off to be replaced by Michael Woods and Darren Holden.

Woods had a sight of goal in the 87th minute, but he rashly shot wide from distance when he had better options.

Harrison flung himself in front of a George Donnelly shot from the edge of the area in the 88th minute, the ball going out for a corner.

It was a tense final few minutes with the referee adding four minutes of added on time to play but neither side could find a way to win the game.

Rovers had been the better side, with Pools creating little of note during the 90 minutes.

Next up for Pools is a tough week on the road, away to Northampton Town on Tuesday before the long trip to Plymouth Argyle next Saturday.

Full-Time: Pools 0 Tranmere Rovers 0

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Richards, Bates (C), Harrison, Austin, Brobbel (Woods, 83), Miller, Walker, Compton (Holden, 83), Wyke, Franks (Harewood, 71).

Subs Not Used: Barber, Collins, Hawkins, Jones.

Booking: Bates.

Tranmere Rovers (4-5-1): Fon Williams, Holmes, Ihiekwe, Donacien, Hill, Richards, Laird, Power, Gill, Baggie (Donnelly, 78), Stockton.

Subs Not Used: Brezovan, Holness, Koumas, Odejayi, Rowe, Fanimo.

Booking: Gill, Woods

Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire)

Attendance: 3,245 (140 Tranmere Rovers)