Hartlepool United 1 Crawley Town 1: Pools still in search of first home win

Lewis Hawkins

Lewis Hawkins

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Hartlepool United again missed out on the chance to record their first home win of the season, after being held at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium by Crawley Town.

Lewis Alessandra netted an early header after a Nathan Thomas penalty miss before James Collins levelled things up from the spot late on

Having rung the changes for the midweek EFL Trophy defeat to Sunderland, Hignett went for a more senior line-up for the return to League Two action.

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Toto Nsiala returned to the heart of defence after a suspension, with Jake Carroll coming back on the left.

Lewis Hawkins shook off a sciatica problem to start alongside Nicky Deverdics. Adam Bartlett continued in goal.

Pools got off to the perfect start when in the 12th minute when Alessandra opened the scoring.

Talisman Nathan Thomas was brought down in the area by Andre Blackman and after picking himself up, the six-goal wideman hit his spot-kick straight at Glen Morris.

Reacting quickest in the area was Alessandra, though, who opened his account for Pools with a header from the rebound.

The visitors were almost level minutes later when Enzio Boldewijn looked to have fouled Scott Harrison in the area but nothing was given and his subsequent header came back off the Bartlett's left-hand post.

In the melee that ensued the again impressive Nsiala had to be on hand to block a goal-bound effort, before Town skipper Jimmy Smith cracked off the bar from 18 yards.

Having edged the opening 45 in terms of possession and chances Crawley could have been forgiven for feeling aggrieved they were a goal down at the break.

But into the second period and Pools, adjusting after the loss of Deverdics to injury, began to influence proceedings. Alessandra began to find space on the right, while Hawkins also became an increasing presence in the middle.

Just as Pools looked to have weathered the storm Town were level on 76.

A floated cross from the right caught Carroll out at the back post. He allowed Collins to get in front of him, and with a header on goal looking likely, he bundled the frontman to the ground.

At the same end as Thomas' miss Collins made no mistake. Bartlett went the right way but could do little about the crisp strike into the bottom left corner.

And despite a tactical change which saw Pools switch to two up top with the arrival of Billy Paynter, as well as a late Nsiala header, which sailed inches wide, that's the way it stayed at the Vic.

Although Pools did have to survive a late scare in added time when Collins was denied a late winner, as Harrison's goal-saving challenge denied the striker in added time, after Crawley had hit the upright.