MATCH REPORT: Swindon Town 1 Hartlepool United 1

TEN-man Hartlepool United held on to claim a valuable point and edge closer to League One safety.

The visitors were leading thanks to Evan Horwood’s first-half strike when Gary Liddle was shown a straight red card for a rash, studs-up lunge on Paul Caddis on 54 minutes.

The midfielder’s dismissal unsettled the visitors and Matt Ritchie’s header duly levelled matters in the 67th minute.

But Pools dug deep and managed to withstand heavy pressure to emerge with a point.

It was Swindon who enjoyed the better of a scrappy opening half hour and long-range efforts by Jonathan Douglas, from a 25-yard free-kick, and Jon-Paul McGovern, from a dipping volley, both shaved the frame of Scott Flinders’ goal.

Flinders, though, was called into action on 31 minutes, Elliot Benyon dropping a delicate cross onto the boot of McGovern but his six-yard hook was kept out by the well-placed goalkeeper.

Then came Horwood’s goal on 37 minutes, the full-back, 35 yards from goal, demonstrating a presence of mind to return first time into the gaping target after Phil Smith had attempted to start a counter attack with a mis-placed, over-arm bowl from the edge of his area.

Flinders had to be on his guard to keep the lead intact before the break, first denying Matt Ritchie and then Calvin Andrew after both men had taken aim from outside the penalty box.

Those efforts were interspersed by a Liddle header, from Leon McSweeney’s corner, which was blocked on the line by Alan Sheehan.

Flinders had saved bravely with his face from Elliot Benyon just seconds before Liddle was banished to the dressing room, but there was nothing the keeper could do about Ritchie’s equaliser as he steamed onto Caddis’ inch-perfect centre to power into the bottom corner.

Swindon pressed for a winner but failed to fashion a clear-cut opening and it was Pools substitute Armann Bjornsson who spurned the best chance to settle it, ducking out of a 50-50 with Robins keeper Smith late in the game.

Pools: Flinders, Haslam, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Liddle, Murray, Gamble, McSweeney, Larkin (Humphreys 73), Monkhouse (Bjornsson 76)

Subs: Rafferty, Behan, Boyd, Mackay, Yantorno

Swindon Town: Smith, Douglas, Frampton, Caddi