HARTLEPOOL United are drawing 0-0 at half-time away to Bury FC in tonight’s Sky Bet League Two encounter.
The Shakers have enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes and went close on three occasions but Colin Cooper’s men are so far holding firm at a sparse Gigg Lane and could have had a penalty.
Cooper made just one change for the match, with winger Jonathan Franks coming in for the suspended Andy Monkhouse, who picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 2-0 win over Northampton Town on Saturday,
On-loan Middlesbrough defender Matty Dolan retained his place in the centre of midfield after having his loan deal extended this morning, while Young left-back Darren Holden returned to the squad and was on the bench.
The Shakers, managed by caretaker boss Ronnie Jepson, named ex-Pools players Tommy Miller and Danny Nardiello in their starting eleven.
It was the home side that had the better of the opening five minutes.
Miller’s strong header from a corner was well held by Scott Flinders, while the Pools stopper was again called into action in the 6th minute easily saving Nardiello’s weak attempt at a lob.
It took Pools until the 15th minute to create a chance of note, James Poole controlling Franks’ cross with his knee before turning and firing a half-volley at Brian Jensen’s goal, but his effort was deflected.
The first shot on target came three minutes later, Simon Walton’s whipped free-kick was fierce but easily held by big Jensen in the home goal.
But it was the side from Greater Manchester that looked the more dangerous, with Miller dictating play in the centre of midfield and Nardiello and Danny Hylton looking dangerous on the break.
Pools had a penalty appeal in the 27th minute, last-man Shaun Beeley with a clumsy challenge on James Poole on the edge of the area but referee Mark Heywood, the same ref from Saturday, waved it away.
Cooper’s side started the game slowly, not for the first time this season, but they edged back into it with Poole getting on the ball more in the final third.
Defender Christian Burgess found himself free in the area in the 32nd minute to connect with a header from Dolan’s cross.
But the assistant had already flagged for offside before the on-loan Middlesbrough defender connected.
Former Crystal Palace midfielder Tom Soares tested Flinders a minute later but the big stopper was equal to it as the Shakers continued to pile on the pressure.
Their best chance came in the 40th minute, a deep cross from the left flank from Chris Sedgwick found winger Craig Jones at the back stick but he poked the ball just wide.
Pools should certainly have had a free-kick on the edge of the area in the 40th minute, William Edjenguele trampled all over James but the referee again waved away the appeals from the Pools players, bench and fans.
Jensen then fumbled a Dolan corner but no Pools player was on hand to take advantage.
HALF TIME: BURY FC 0 POOLS 0
Hartlepool United: Flinders; Austin; Burgess; Baldwin; Duckworth; Walton; Dolan; Franks; Compton; Poole; James.
Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Collins; Sweeney; Richards; Holden; Rodney; Walker.
Bury FC: Jensen; Beeley; Cameron; Jones; Miller; Sedgwick; Nardiello; Soares; Howell; Hylton; Edjenguele.
Subs Not Used: Hinds; Holden; Harrad; Mayor; Reindorf; Navas; Lainton.
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire).