HALF TIME MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United v Northampton Town

Colin Cooler looks on against Rotherham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooler looks on against Rotherham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Picture by FRANK REID

LUKE James’ 10th goal of the season has given Hartlepool United a 1-0 lead against Northampton Town at half-time.

The striker’s 23rd minute strike was enough to separate the teams in the Sky Bet League Two match at Victoria Park.

Gaffer Colin Cooper kept faith with the same starting 11 who were beaten in Pools’ last match, the 2-0 defeat away to Newport County last Friday night.

Top scorer James and James Poole again started up front, with support in midfield from Andy Monkhouse, Matty Dolan, Simon Walton and Jack Compton.

Pools had won their last three home league matches at Victoria Park and were looking to bounce straight back from the 2-0 defeat in South Wales.

It was a flat start to the game from Pools’ point of view and Northampton almost took the lead in the second minute, Luke Norris hitting the post with his yellow right boot, with Scott Flinders helpless in goal.

Northampton captain Paul Reid then went close but his free header from a corner flew just wide of Flinders’ left hand post.

The highlight of the opening 15 minutes was when Town striker Jacob Blyth collided with Pools mascot H’Angus on the Cyril Knowles touchline, the cheeky chimp diving to the floor and appealing for a free-kick.

Even Aidy Boothroyd in the away dugout found it funny and pretended to drag the stretcher down to the stricken monkey.

On-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan blasted an effort wide of the left-hand post in the 16th minute as Pools attempted to get a foothold in the game.

Pools did hit the post themselves in the 21st minute after the ball went through the hands of away keeper Matt Duke but the whistle had already gone for a Pools handball inside the area.

Then, in the 23rd minute, Pools took the lead courtesy of teenage sensation James.

The 18-year-old took advantage of a defence splitting 30-yard Dolan pass, controlled the ball on his left before firing a low shot with his right boot past the despairing Duke.

It was another fine finish for Amble-born James and takes his tally to 10 for the season.

Winger Andy Monkhouse was booked in the 27th minute after a late high challenge on Ben Tozer, although the Town right-back made the most of the tackle and was able to carry on, to the delight of the Poolie faithful on the Mill House terrace.

The goal failed to inject any life or drive into the game but Pools were comfortable against the bottom-of-the-table side.

A delightful piece of footwork from Poole in the 39th minute saw him burst through the centre of the Town defence and he was bought down on the edge of the box.

Dolan and Jack Compton had a disagreement over who should take it but it was the Middlesbrough man who stepped up, curling his shot into the wall.

Poole was again the home side’s dangerman and he drew a foul from Paul Reid moments before the half-time break after a smart turn on the half-way line.

From the resulting Dolan free-kick it was that man again James who connected, hitting the bar after a smart right-footed volley inside the area and the ball was cleared to safety.

HALF TIME: Pools 1 Northampton Town 0

Hartlepool United: Flinders; Duckworth; Austin (C); Burgess; Baldwin; Walton; Compton, Dolan; Monkhouse; Poole; James.

Subs Not Used: Rafferty; Collins; Franks; Sweeney; Richards; Rodney; Walker.

Booked: Monkhouse.

Northampton Town: Duke; Widdowson; Tozer; Reid; Emerton; Blyth; Kouo-Doumbe; Dallas; Ferdinand; Norris; Ravenhill.

Subs Not Used: Amankwaah, Collins, Morris, Platt, Deegan, McNamara, Heath.

Booked: Emerton, Reid.

Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)