Hartlepool settle for point after throwing away two-goal lead at Newport

OWN GOAL ... Hartlepool's opener against Newport.

OWN GOAL ... Hartlepool's opener against Newport.

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HARTLEPOOL United remain a point above the relegation zone in League Two despite giving away a two-goal lead at Newport County.

An own goal from Lee Minshull and a first Pools goal for on-loan Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill gave Ronnie Moore’s side a 2-0 lead.

But Newport hit back, Darren Jones pulling a goal back just before the break and Aaron O’Connor netted the equaliser two minutes after the re-start.

Defeats for Cheltenham and a point for Tranmere Rovers keep Pools a point above the drop zone ahead of the Easter Monday visit of Southend United.

Moore was able to name an unchanged line-up after Reading loanee Aaron Tshibola shrugged off a groin strain to start at Rodney Parade.

Pools again lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Jimmy Dack’s side also starting the Sky Bet League Two match in the same system.

Scott Harrison was booked after just eight minutes, following an altercation with County midfielder Lee Minshull.

Newport had started with more purpose and Aaron O’Connor had the opening chance, his right-footed shot curled just wide of Scott Flinders’ right-hand post.

Despite their strong side, it was Pools that took the lead.

Jonathan Franks did well down the left to recover a Dan Jones free-kick, he played the ball back to Michael Duckworth who whipped the ball to the back post.

Under pressure from Brad Walker, Minshull headed it past his own keeper Joe Day to hand Pools the lead.

On the half hour mark, Franks had a good chance to double the lead but he flashed his shot across the face of Day’s goal.

Five minutes later and on-loan Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill was denied his first goal in a Pools shirt.

Andy Sandell cleared the ball off the line before Hugill was able to tap it home following a Franks cross.

But he needn’t have worried, as two minutes later he had doubled the lead.

Franks hit a fierce attempt from 20-yards that cracked off the crossbar, Tshibola did well to head the rebound back into the danger zone and Hugill finished on the line.

Pools were cruising but Newport hit back just before the break.

The ball was played across to County captain Darren Jones who had time to pick his spot from 20-yards, fizzing a first-time effort past Flinders into the corner of the net.

Half-Time: Newport 1 Pools 2

Within three minutes of the re-start, County were level.

It was a nightmare start for Pools as David Tutonda played a lovely through ball to O’Connor who hit it first time past Flinders into the corner of the net.

The early goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Pools but they recovered well to produce a battling display.

Featherstone and Tshibola didn’t see as much of the ball though, Max Porter and Mark Byrne closing the pair down quicker to nullify their threat.

Franks, unplayable in the first half, wasn’t as much of a threat either as Newport tried their best to get Harrison sent off.

In the end Moore took the former Sunderland defender off, Jordan Jones coming on in his place, with Pools switching to a back four.

With 82 minutes on the clock, Flinders saved point blank from Ismail Yakubu.

The ball spilled and Flinders appeared to clip his ankles but the referee Kevin Johnson didn’t give it, to the relief of the travelling 239 fans.

Hugill then beat Day to a high ball but there wasn’t enough power in his header to see it cross the line before the defender cleared.

Mirfin then produced a wonderful block in added-on time to deny Tutonda.

In the end Pools had to settle for a point, but it could prove crucial.

Full-Time: Newport 2 Pools 2

Newport (3-5-2): Day, Porter (Chapman, 82), Jones (c), Yakubu, Minshull, O’Connor, Sandell, Klukowski (Jeffers, 62), Storey, Tutonda, Byrne.

Subs Not Used: Stephens, Flynn, Parker, Poole, Collins.

Booked: Jeffers (77), Byrne (84)

Scorers: Jones (44), O’Connor (48),

Pools (3-5-2): Flinders (C), Austin, Harrison (J. Jones, 77), Mirfin, D Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Walker, Tshibola, Hugill (Harewood, 89), Franks.

Subs Not Used: Maxted, Richards, Hawkins, J Jones, Nelson-Addy, Smith.

Booked: Harrison (8), Mirfin (69), Jones, (80), Walker (82)

Scorers: Minshull OG (15), Hugill (37)

Attendance 3,531 (Pools 239)