HARTLEPOOL United’s five-match winning streak came to an end at Glanford Park after a 1-0 defeat to Scunthorpe United, writes Richard Mennear.
A curled Sam Winnall strike in the 76th minute was enough to separate the two sides and put an end to Pools’ winning run.
Pools had enough chances to win the game but Scunthorpe United came back strongly in the second half to take all three points.
Hartlepool manager Colin Cooper named an unchanged side for the Sky Bet League Two match away to Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.
Winger Jonathan Franks retained his place in the starting 11, in for the suspended Jack Compton, who was serving the second of his three-match ban after being red carded in the home match against Plymouth Argyle..
Seven-goal striker Luke James started up front with support from James Poole as Pools again lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The game started very evenly as both teams that were relegated from League One last season fought to get a footing in the match.
Pools did come under the cosh as the game entered the 10th minute and Scott Flinders was called into action to claim three crosses in the space of a few minutes as the home side pressed forward.
But it was Pools that had the clearest opening when Franks took advantage of a mistake by defender David Mirfin but his shot was fired wide of Sam Slocombe’s right-hand post in the 13th minute.
James then created an opportunity for himself, beating two defenders in the air to dive at a floated Simon Walton ball but his looping backwards header was saved by the diving Slocombe.
It was an open flowing game but little clear-cut chances were being created by either side.
Scunthorpe, 12th in League Two before kick-off, looked the more likely to open the scoring but Jack Baldwin and on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess were keeping Iron forwards Jimmy Spencer and Sam Winnall at bay.
On-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan - who this week signed on for another month at Pools - dragged a shot wide in the 32nd minute after an intricate passing exchange with Poole.
Scunthorpe defender Niall Canavan was then booked two minutes later for body-checking Poole as he darted through the centre of Scunthorpe’s midfield but the resuling Dolan free-kick came to nothing.
Slocombe was forced into action in the 37th minute to save Dolan’s strike from the edge of the area after the ball broke to him following a deflection from Michael Duckworth’s cross.
The Iron keeper was equal to it and pushed it to safety and the follow-up effort from the on-rushing James was blocked for a corner.
Slocombe was again called into action five minutes before the break but his strong hands were enough to push Franks’ fierce strike over the bar for a corner.
Burgess and Andy Monkhouse both had strong headers saved by the Iron keeper before the half-time break.
Colin Cooper’s side started the second half as they finished the first and almost took the lead in the 50th minute through Monkhouse but the winger’s deflected 30-yard strike hit the post.
Moments later, Monkhouse had another effort from a similar distance but it dipped just wide of the other post after he was teed up after an excellent run from 22-year-old Burgess.
Flinders was then called on for Pools in the 55th minute to deny David Syers’s low shot and there was a slight delay as midfielder Simon Walton - who had slid in to help block the shot - was injured in the process but was able to carry on.
Brian Laws’ Scunthorpe side started to come back strong into the tie after their gaffer reverted to a 4-4-2 formation and it almost paid dividends when Winnall was put clean through.
Thankfully for Pools, 20-year-old Baldwin was able to perform a precision tackle and nip the ball away from the striker just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Cooper brought on Bradley Walker for James Poole, who was struggling to have an impact, in the 65th minute in a bid to revive Pools who were now on the backfoot.
But it was the home side that took the lead in the 76th minute thanks to Sam Winnall who cooly slotted past Flinders after being put through by Andy Dawson.
Burgess slipped as he went to ground in a bid to tackle Winnall and his weak challenge wasn’t strong enough which allowed Scunthorpe to take the lead thanks to the curled effort into the right-hand corner of the net.
It was a bitter blow for Pools who were looking to record their sixth successive victory in all competitions.
Cooper made further subs with club captain Antony Sweeney and forward Nialle Rodney coming on for Luke James and Simon Walton as the clock ticked down to the final whistle.
Seven minutes of stoppage time were added, to the delight of the 492 travelling Pools fans.
Burgess headed over from a free header inside the box and Rodney dragged a shot wide after being put through by Walker as Pools threw everything forward.
Pools were left ruing their missed opportunities at the end of the first half and opening few minutes of the second as Scunthorpe United held on for the 1-0 win and all three points.
Scunthorpe United: Sam Slocombe, Andy Dawson (C), Sean McAllister, David Mirfin, Niall Canavan, Deon Burton (Chris Iwelumo, 72), Terry Hawkridge (Luke Waterfall, 84), David Syers, Cliff Byrne, Jimmy Spencer (Christian Ribeiro, 45), Sam Winnall.
Subs Not Used: James Severn, Etienne Esajas, Luke Waterfall, Hakeeb Adelakun, Jamie Wootton.
Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Michael Duckworth, Jack Baldwin, Christian Burgess, Neil Austin (C), Jonathan Franks, Simon Walton (Antony Sweeney, 84), Matty Dolan, Andy Monkhouse, James Poole (Bradley Walker, 65), Luke James (Nialle Rodney, 84).
Subs Not Used: Andy Rafferty, Sam Collins, Darren Holden, Jordan Richards.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson.
Assistant Referees: Iain Siddle, Peter Wright.
Attendance 3,613 (492 Pools fans)