Hartlepool United 3 Notts County 2: James at the double in cup drama

Andy Monkhouse of Hartlepool United takes on Notts County today. Picture by Frank Reid.
Andy Monkhouse of Hartlepool United takes on Notts County today. Picture by Frank Reid.

HARTLEPOOL United made it into the hat for the second round of the FA Cup after an entertaining 3-2 win over Notts County at Victoria Park.

Goals from Jack Baldwin and a Luke James double helped Colin Cooper’s side to victory over County, who scored through a fortunate Dean Leacock effort and substitute Ronan Murray.

The win makes it seven out of eight wins in all competitions for a Pools side brimming with confidence.

Sky Bet League Two manager of the month Cooper made just one change with defender Sam Collins coming in for Christian Burgess who missed the game at Victoria Park with a one-game suspension after collecting five yellow cards.

Winger Jonathan Franks retained his place in the starting line-up, with Jack Compton returning to the bench after serving his three-match suspension.

Meanwhile, League Two player of the month Luke James again started up front for Pools, who were sporting a one-off Poppy fundraising shirt. The 18-year-old looking to add to his seven goals this season.

Former Pools player Gary Liddle started for Notts County, who had a new manager in the dugout in the shape of former QPR midfielder Shaun Derry, 35.

Both teams took to the centre circle before kick-off as the whole ground observed an immaculate one-minute silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

It was a tentative opening 10 minutes with Franks’ blocked shot from the egde of the area the closest either side came to an effort on goal.

Then, in the 12th minute, a deflected Neil Austin cross looped onto the crossbar and away for a corner with Bartosz Bialkowski in the away goal looking on.

It wasn’t long before Pools took the lead, Jack Baldwin with a bullet header from six-yards from a pin-point Simon Walton free-kick after James Poole was fouled on the left wing.

The lead didn’t last long though and Notts County pulled level thanks to a goal their centre-half Dean Leacock knew nothing about.

Matty Dolan cleared a corner in the box and it hit the back of Leacock and rocketed past Scott Flinders who could do nothing but watch it fly into the net.

James Poole was clattered shortly after their equaliser but was able to carry on despite a heavy blow to his lower back.

Leacock had a great chance to put County 2-1 up but his angled header was saved by the diving Flinders low to his right after the big centre took advantage of a deflected Gary Liddle cross.

Andy Monkhouse and on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan had opportunities to test the keeper but the winger’s effort was blocked and Dolan’s bounced comfortably into the hands of the goalkeeper.

It was Monkhouse again in the 33rd minute after he jinked inside and fired a right-footed blast towards goal but the diving head of ex-Poolie Liddle deflected it over the bar.

Baldwin again found himself free from the resulting corner but his header was this time saved.

Callum McGregor went close in the 35th minute but Flinders was alert to collect the ball comfortably into his chest.

It was McGregor again moments later who should have put County in front. Liddle’s header clipped off the post but the tumbling McGregor was unable to poke the ball into the net from a yard out and Pools survived.

But it was the home side who took the lead again thanks to the lively James in the 42nd minute.

He prodded the ball in after Bialkowski saved Michael Duckworth’s low drive from 20-yards out to give Pools a 2-1 half-time lead.

Cooper’s men started brightly in the second half despite the plummeting temperatures at Victoria Park.

James teed up strike partner James Poole in the 51st minute but his shot from the edge of the area was blocked and Cooper’s in-form side looked to extend their lead.

County manager Derry made his first ever substitutions in management in the 61st minute, bringing on Enoch Showunmi and Andre Boucaud in a bid to liven his team up who had come out for the second half very flat.

It didn’t have an impact initially as the game continued to drift and the only real chance of any note was Mark Fotheringham’s ambitious effort from 25-yards out which sailed harmlessly wide.

County had a penalty shout turned down in the 68th minute, with the away fans claiming Simon Walton had handled Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s cross inside the area.

Pools were camped inside there own half for a 10-minute spell in the second half as County pushed forward but several corners came to nothing.

Then, in the 74th minute, James struck again from close range to give Cooper’s side a 3-1 lead.

Matty Dolan’s whipped free-kick had cannoned off the right hand post to Franks on the edge of the area and his drilled shot was deflected to James who made no mistake in firing the ball into the net.

An emphatic finish from the tireless player of the month who continues to impress with his all-round displays.

County pushed forward in a bid to get back in the game and the pressure paid off in the 84th minute, substitute Ronan Murray volleying emphatically past Flinders from 6 yards out to make it 3-2 Pools.

Cooper then brought on Antony Sweeney and Jordan Richards in the 86th minute to try and get Pools back on the front foot as the final whistle approached.

Substitute Sweeney had time and space in the 91st minute but he fired wide under no real pressure from around 20 yards out, the ball going wide of the left-hand post into the advertising boards.

County pressed forward, with goalkeeper Bialkowski even going up for a last-minute corner, but Cooper’s side held on to progress into the second round of the FA Cup.

Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Michael Duckworth, Jack Baldwin, Sam Collins, Neil Austin (C), Jonathan Franks (Jordan Richards, 86), Simon Walton, Matty Dolan, Andy Monkhouse, James Poole (Antony Sweeney, 86), Luke James.

Subs Not Used: Andy Rafferty, Jack Compton, Darren Holden, Nialle Rodney, Bradley Walker.

Booked: Monkhouse.

Notts County: Bartosz Bialkowski, Alan Sheehan, Gary Liddle, Dean Leacock, Jack Grealish (Enoch Showunmi 61), Callum McGregor, Yoann Arquin, Joss Labadie (Andre Boucaud, 61), Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Curtis Thompson (Ronan Murray, 75), Mark Fotheringham.

Subs Not Used: Manny Smith, Andy Haworth, Fabian Spiess, Greg Tempest.

Booked: Labadie, Leacock.

Referee: Carl Boyeson. Assistant Refs: D. Street, B Roberts.

Attendance: 3,313 (233 Notts County)