REPORT: Hartlepool United beat Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 in pre-season clash

Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper at  Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper at Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

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A JONATHAN Franks strike was enough to secure a 1-0 win for Hartlepool United in their pre-season match away at Bradford Park Avenue.

The second-half substitute fired home from inside the penalty area after good work down the left flank by Darren Holden.

It was a poor game in truth but Pools did enough over the course of the 90 minutes to secure the win, their second of pre-season.

Colin Cooper named trailists Biko Bradnock-Brennan and Eugen Bopp in his starting line-up against the Conference North side, who finished 10th in their league last season.

The pair have been on trial for the past few weeks - including going on the pre-season trip to Spain - and Cooper is expected to make a final decision on their futures imminently.

Meanwhile, midfielders Tommy Miller and Michael Woods, who are both training with the club, started the match on the bench.

Captain for the day was Michael Duckworth, who joined Pools from Park Avenue last summer after a successful trial.

Two minutes in and Scott Flinders was called upon to make a smart block on the edge of the area after Joe Colbeck found himself in between Matthew Bates and Bradnock-Brennan.

It was always going to be a harder game for Pools than last Wednesday night’s 9-0 rout of Billingham Town.

And so it proved, Park Avenue looking the more dangerous in the opening stages.

Colbeck was given the freedom of the Horsfall Stadium in the 14th minute, running clear through the centre of Pools’ midfield before firing a shot along the ground into the hands of Flinders.

Bopp was busy in the centre of midfield, exchanging several short passes in central midfield alongside Brad Walker but he didn’t look dangerous offensively.

Harewood was unlucky 20 minutes in, charging down a John Maxsted clearance inside the penalty area but the bounce fell kindly for the keeper who cleared.

Bates had started where he’d left off against Billingham Town, with a classy display at the back but he was almost caught out by Chib Chilaka who dispossessed him on the edge of the Pools penalty area.

Bradnock-Brennan was in the right place to mop up and clear.

Up front vocal Harewood looked hungry for the ball and was involved in several sharp exchanges and had his side’s clearest attempt on goal - heading over the bar with 35 minutes on the clock.

The game lacked intensity and the attacking potency of the Billingham match but it was a good physical work out for Cooper’s squad.

Park Avenue continued to look the more likely to score though, Colbeck again firing wide from the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Pools pushed further up the field as the half wore on.

Walker rolled an effort just wide of the right-hand post after controlling the ball well on the edge of the area, he shimmied to his left but then screwed his shot wide and it was the final chance of a poor half.

HALF-TIME: Bradford Park Avenue 0 Pools 0

The first substitution saw Andy Rafferty replace Flinders in the Pools goal but Cooper was keen to give more game time to the outfield players.

Teenage striker Luke James had chance to stretch his legs five minutes into the re-start, running a good 25-yards with the ball through the heart of Park Avenue.

Unfortunately for the 19-year-old, defender Sam Hewitt produced a great challenge close to the penalty area before James could let rip.

Bopp got the rebound but his low shot towards goal was gathered by Tom Morgan, one of several half-time subs for the home side.

There was a mix-up in communication at the back between Rafferty and Brennan 10 minutes into the re-start, with the keeper’s attempted clearance half blocked but Pools got away with it.

On the hour mark Cooper made wholesale changes, with Duckworth, Bates, Parnaby, Bopp, Compton and Walker all subbed off.

On came Jordan Richards, Darren Holden, Tommy Miller, Josh Rowbotham, Michael Woods and Jonathan Franks.

Pools looked more threatening going forward with the introduction of the substitutes - Franks saw a fiercely struck shot defected wide within minutes of coming on.

The sun was out and the energy levels increased with it.

Miller looked assured, as you would expect, in the centre of the park, while Woods looked hungry for the ball and was vocal with it.

Pools took the lead in the 78th minute, Austin with a long ball down field to Holden who found himself in space on the touchline.

The left-back then rolled a perfect ball across to the on-rushing Franks in the middle who passed the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.

Franks looked dangerous throughout his spell, building on his good work against Billingham Town in midweek when he scored a brace.

Cooper made two final subs, with Connor Smith coming on for James and Dan Jones replacing Neil Austin, who needed an ice pack on his right foot as a precaution.

Tempers threatened to boil over in the final few minutes after a rash challenge on Harewood on the half-way line but proceedings were soon underway again.

It was an improved second-half performance from Pools though, who finished 1-0 winners.

FULL-TIME: Bradford Park Avenue 0 Pools 1

Pools: Flinders (Rafferty, 45), Austin (Jones, 84), Duckworth (C) (Richards, 60), Brennan, Bates (Holden, 60), Walker (Rowbotham, 60), Bopp (Miller, 60), Compton (Woods, 60), Parnaby (Franks, 60), Harewood, James (SMith, 84).

Subs Not Used: Nearney, Collins, Hawkins.

Bradford Park Avenue: (First Half): Maxsted, Black, Drury, Turner, Qualter, Mallory, Colbeck, Hotte, Chilaka, Walker, James.

Second Half: Morgan, Howarth, Miller, Kerr, Hewitt, Hotte, Frost, Turner, Barraclough, Marshall, Walker.

Horsfall Stadium