MATCH REPORT: Sheffield United v Hartlepool United

Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett on the sidelines. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett on the sidelines. Picture by FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United have beaten Sheffield United 1-0 in tonight’s second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern section at Bramall Lane.

A 37th-minute volley from Pools forward James Poole was enough to secure the win for Colin Cooper’s side and see them through into the next round.

It was a dogged and determined display by Pools who were worthy winners against League One opposition.

Manager Colin Cooper made two changes from the weekend’s 4-1 win over Mansfield with defender Darren Holden coming in at left-back and midfielder Bradley Walker returning to the starting eleven. Jack Baldwin is suspended and Sam Collins injured so Neil Austin started the game at centre back.

The home side almost took the lead in the first minute via a Conor Coady curled left-foot strike but it cannoned off the top of the bar from the edge of the area after the Blades capitalised on Jack Compton giving the ball away on the half way line.

Compton then had the chance to open the scoring after he found himself free inside the box on the right hand side but his left-footed effort was comfortably held by Mark Howard in the 8th minute.

Luke James had Pools’ first clear-cut chance of the opening 45 minutes when he was put clean through in the 14th minute - despite calls for offside from the home fans - but he dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post, leaving the young forward with his head in his hands.

Pools started the game in 4-4-1-1 formation, with James Poole behind James and Cooper’s men looked organised and well-drilled against the League One side once the pace of the game settled.

And Pools took the lead in the 37th minute courtesy of a James Poole volley from 12 yards after a Holden throw-in evaded the home defence and the forward fired home with a crisp finish.

Cooper’s side held on until half-time with their lead in tact.

Pools started the second half in the same way they ended the first, with Compton finding himself in space in the 54th minute only to see his effort fly harmlessly wide of the post.

Blades manager David Weir made two changes in the 55th minute in a bid to change his teams fortunes and they did have a strong spell of pressure but were unable to create any clear chances, although Scott Flinders did have to back pedal furiously to catch Harry Maguire’s deflected cross on the goal line.

The home-side looked nervous as the clock ticked down, not helped by the doggedness shown by the Pools side, with James and Poole leading by example in chasing every ball down in the final third.

Marlon King engineered himself a shot on goal in the 81st minute for the Blades but it was comfortably dealt with by Flinders in the Pools goal, as the away side survived another period of sustained pressure.

Joe Ironside then fired wide from a Sheffield United corner in the 87th minute, with Pools camped in their own half, while Neill Collins headed straight into the arms of Flinders when free in the box.

Four minutes of injury time were added on but Pools had enough energy left in the locker to hold on for the win.

Team: Scott Flinders, Neil Austin (C), Darren Holden, Christian Burgess, Michael Duckworth, Simon Walton, Bradley Walker, Andy Monkhouse (Richards, 83), Jack Compton (Franks, 79), Luke James (Rodney, 84), James Poole.

Substitutes: Andy Rafferty, Jonathan Franks, Antony Sweeney, Jordan Richards, Nialle Rodney.

Booked: Poole

Sheffield United: Mark Howard, Darryl Westlake, Harry Maguire, Michael Doyle (C), Lyle Taylor (Ironside, 55), Jose Baxter, Neill Collins, Conor Coady, Marlon King, Simon Lappin, Jamie Murphy (Hall, 55).

Substitutes: Ryan Hall, Matthew Hill, Stephen McGinn, Joe Ironside, George Willis.

Referee: Mick Russell.

Assistant Referees: Robert Atkin, Peter Gooch.