MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Preston North End 1

IN ACTION: James Poole closes down the ball on the edge of the Preston penalty area. Picture by FRANK REID
IN ACTION: James Poole closes down the ball on the edge of the Preston penalty area. Picture by FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United were beaten for the seventh game on the spin at Victoria Park as Preston North End became the latest side to leave with maximum points.

The Lilywhites were without a win in 13 going into the game but arrested that slide thanks to Neil Mellor’s 21st-minute strike.

The result adds to the woes of Pools first-team coach Mick Wadsworth, whose side are now without a home goal from open play in 576 minutes.

The boss had made just one change to the side beaten by Yeovil Town at the weekend with Gary Liddle again dropped to the bench, Adam Boyd coming in.

And the hosts made an enterprising start, winning a string of early corners.

From one delivery, stood to the far post by Nobby Solano, Peter Hartley’s header appeared to strike the arm of Jamie McCombe only for the offence to go unnoticed by the officials.

Within three minutes of that let-off the visitors had taken the lead, Mellor steaming onto a loose ball to smash uncompromisingly into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

That strike stunned Pools but they did fashion a chance for Solano just after the half hour when the Peruvian saw a close-range shot, from an Andy Monkhouse pull-back, deflected wide by the desperate dive of defender Craig Morgan.

Just seconds later Preston sprung an offensive and Mellor, having outfoxed Neil Austin, was denied a second when his low steer was snaffled by Scott Flinders.

But Pools should have drawn level just before the break when Boyd’s flick dropped to the feet of James Poole eight yards from goal.

The young forward spun before dispatching a snap shot only to see Thorsten Stuckmann turn the low effort around the upright.

Poole was proving the home side’s chief goal threat and a weaving run through the centre on 61 minutes resulted in a 20-yard drive again being brushed wide by that man Stuckmann.

On 65 minutes Poole again went close, this time seeing a 25-yard free-kick zip inches wide of the North End target after he had been fouled following another purposeful run.

But Pools fizzled out after that bright spell as they extended the unwanted club-record run for successive home defeats.