HARTLEPOOL United are in the third round draw of this year’s FA Cup after a spirited second-half performance earned at replay at Coventry City.
But Colin Cooper’s men will know they have nothing to fear when they take on the League One outfit for the second time, after dominating the second half at Victoria Park.
Pools found themselves 1-0 down at half time after a fantastic opener from Coventry skipper Carl Baker.
But Cooper’s men were revitalised in the second half, probing and piling on the pressure throughout before Andy Monkhouse grabbed a much-deserved equaliser.
It was the same 11 lining up for Pools who started out against Pompey last week. The only change to the match-day squad being Darren Holden taking Jordan Richards’ place on the bench. Richards is having a hernia operation on Tuesday.
The 2,898 at The Vic paid tribute to former South Africa President Nelson Mandela in a minute’s applause before the game.
The crowd also showed their appreciation to Scott Flinders who was presented before the game after making his 200th appearance for the club last week.
And it only took five minutes for him to demonstrate his class.
An audacious Carl Baker effort was dipping viciously but Flinders managed to palm the goal-bound shot over the bar.
Five minutes later and Flinders was again at the centre of the action. Baker’s perfectly weighted through-ball found Billy Daniels who rounded the on-rushing keeper on the edge of the box. Fortunately, as Flinders scrambled back to goal covered by his defence, Daniels’ effort went wide.
But Pools only managed to hold on for two more minutes.
Franck Moussa, leading the Coventry line on his own due to a striker crisis, broke free down the right in the 12th minute. His cross was met by that man Baker again who’s impressive scissor kick beat Flinders and nestled in the net, a stunning strike.
Despite falling behind the hosts started to settle down as the game passed the quarter-of-an-hour mark.
And they were very nearly gifted an equaliser. Coventry defender Dan Seaborne under-hit a backpass but was let off the hook thanks to the alert stopper Joe Murphy who rushed off his line to clear the ball away from the fast arriving Luke James.
Murphy may well have had to have been alert as well moments later when Dolan spotted him off his line, but the industrious midfielder’s effort from midway inside the Coventry half barely reached goal.
Pools somehow managed to avoid falling further behind on the halfway point of the first half. Cyrus Christie fizzed a delightful ball across the box, which was crying out for a touch. Blair Adams provided that touch but somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
Hartlepool’s first real chance came on 24 minutes.
A Jack Compton corner was met by Christian Burgess but his header was smartly saved by Joe Murphy and hacked away to safety.
Compton was beginning to threaten down the right. As the game approached the half hour point he beat his opposing defender Adams with ease on a couple of occasions but was just unable to provide a telling cross.
Pools’ best chance of the opening half came right on the stroke of half time. Compton chose to play a corner short before whipping a ball in which was met by Christian Burgess.
The big centre half was just six yards out but Murphy again saved well, saving Coventry’s lead.
Antony Sweeney replaced James Poole in Colin Cooper’s only half-time change.
And Pools started the second half brightly.
Andy Monkhouse very nearly got Pools level when he got on the end of a Matty Dolan cross 10 minutes into the second period.
The cross came from a free-kick after Coventry defender Dan Seaborne was extremely over-zealous in the challenge, escaping with a yellow card.
Pools were dominant and piling on the pressure.
Jonathan Franks entered the fray on the hour mark and was immediately thrust into the centre of the action.
He latched onto a loose ball and skipped past Seaborne right on the edge of the area. The Coventry defender, having just gone in the book, was lucky to stay on the pitch and Coventry were lucky to stay ahead as Dolan’s free kick soared high and over the bar.
Franks looked dangerous and his cross was sliced clear on 68 minutes leading to another Pools corner, again cleared by the Coventry defenders.
The visitors weren’t threatening at all.
And Joe Murphy was again called into action with 15 minutes to play. A Franks shot was deflected wide for a corner. Dolan did the honours and his cross was only half cleared as far as Simon Walton whose half volley was straight down the throat of Coventry stopper Murphy.
But with 12 minutes left, Pools got the goal they richly deserved.
The impressive Dolan crafted a wonderful cross-field ball to Franks. The winger took a touch before supplying a cross which was met by a bullet Andy Monkhouse header.
Franks was at the centre of everything positive after coming off the bench.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute when the visitors offered their first effort at goal in the second half. Substitute Courtney Baker-Richardson found himself in space in the box and cut back before unleashing a strike which wasn’t far off target.
It triggered Colin Cooper to play his final hand from the bench, Bradley Walker replacing Simon Walton.
Impressive full-back Michael Duckworth forayed forwards in the last minute and could have easily gone down as he weaved inside defenders in the box before Coventry managed to clear.
It was the last opening of a thrilling second half and both sides will no go into Sunday’s third round draw before going head-to-head again in a replay at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium, where Coventry are currently playing their home games.
Att: 2,898 (541 away).
Hartlepool United: Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin (C), Compton, Walton, Dolan, Monkhouse, Poole, James.
Subs: Rafferty (GK), Collins, Franks, Sweeney, Holden, Rodney, Walker.
Coventry City: Murphy, Seaborne, Thomas, Christie, Webster, Fleck, Moussa, Clarke, Baker, Adams, Daniels.
Subs: Phillips, Haynes, Barton, Garner, Maund, Baker-Richardson, Burge.