HALF-TIME: Wycombe 0 Pools 1

JACK Barmby’s third goal for the club has given Hartlepool United a 1-0 lead at half-time in their Sky Bet League Two match with Wycombe Wanderers.

The on-loan Manchester United forward lofted a sublime effort into the top corner three minutes before the break to give Pools the lead.

Gaffer Colin Cooper named the same starting line-up for the match, being played in glorious sunshine at Adams Park.

Luke James and Marlon Harewood again started up front with support from Barmby, who was playing just behind the front pairing.

Michael Duckworth and Neil Austin again missed out through injury, with young full-backs Jordan Richards and Darren Holden starting in defence either side of captain Sam Collins and Christian Burgess.

Pools, playing in red, went into the match ninth in Sky Bet League Two - two places and five points from the top seven.

Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe team, meanwhile, are fourth bottom in League Two but haven’t lost in their last five matches.

Today is the first match for Cooper & Co without former assistant Craig Hignett, who this week left to become Number 2 to Aitor Karanka at Championship side Middlesbrough.

Three minutes in and Pools were denied what looked like a clear goalscoring opportunity - James pushed in the back by Chairboys defender Anthony Stewart inside the area.

But referee Andrew Madley waved away the appeals for a penalty to the astonishment of the travelling Pools fans.

It left Cooper on the Pools bench fuming with the decision, and Stewart relieved he wasn’t given his marching orders so early into the match.

Ainsworth was then forced into an early change with Matt McClure replacing the injured Paris Cowan-Hall in just the 8th minute.

James had started the match really well, running at the Wycombe defence four times within the space of the opening 15 minutes but they just about managed to keep him at bay.

With 23 minutes gone, Dean Morgan broke free down the left-hand flank after Simon Walton had given the ball away with a poor pass.

Morgan seemed caught in two minds and he ended up scuffing his shot across the face of the goal.

In the 29th minute Brad Walker had to be alert to block the strike from Nick Arnold on the edge of the penalty area and then moments later substitute McClure had Wycombe’s best chance of the first-half.

He found himself free just inside the area but his fiercely-struck shot was straight down the throat of Scott Flinders, who gathered the ball well.

Bloomfield then screwed a shot five-yards wide of Flinders’ left-hand post in the 39th minute.

Surprisingly, the warm conditions didn’t mean the pace of the game slowed, with both sides still pushing forward as the clock ticked down towards the half-time whistle.

And the first goal of the game came in the 42nd minute - through on-loan Barmby.

It was a fantastic strike from inside the penalty area, taking a touch before lofting the ball with his left-boot into the top-right hand corner.

Another quality goal from the forward, his third for the club.

Moments later Barmby then went into the notebook for a foul, before the referee blew for half-time.

Half Time: Wycombe 0 Pools 1

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Richards, Collins(C), Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby, James, Harewood.

Subs Not Used: Rafferty (gk), Sweeney, Hawkins, Compton, Franks, Poole, Rodney.

Wycombe (4-4-2): Ingram, McCoy, Wood, Johnson, Stewart, Scowen, Arnold, Bloomfield, Kretzschmar, Morgan, Cowan-Hall (McClure, 8).

Subs Not Used: Horlock (gk), Jeffrey, Kuffour, Pierre, Craig, Kewley-Graham, McClure.

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)