Sheffield United beat Hartlepool in penalty shoot-out

Scott Fenwick
Scott Fenwick

Hartlepool United were beaten 4-3 on penalties by Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy.

The first round tie ended 1-1 after 90 minutes but the Blades proved too sharp from the spot.

Pools struggled to get near Sheffield United in the opening stages.

The League One high-fliers, who selected only two of side which won at Swindon on Saturday, dominated from the off and deserved the lead through Ryan Flynn.

Pools did improve and Scott Fenwick fired the home side level six minutes after the break.

The game went to penalties but Pools could not convert their third and fourth attempts, Scott Harrison and Scott Fenwick having their efforts saved by George Long.

Adam Bartlett kept Pools in it by saving from Martyn Woolford and then Nicky Featherstone tied the scores at 3-3.

It needed more magic from Basrtlett, but James McEveley found the bottom corner with Sheffield’s final penalty to win it 4-3.

Pools struggled to get near Sheffield United in the opening stages.

The home defence was cut open in the fifth minute when Marc McNulty put it on a plate for Martin Woolford. It looked easier to score, but Bartlett managed to save it for a corner.

But it was only a matter of time that the Blades went ahead.

Dan Jones, making his first start, inadvertently gave the ball away to to Michael Higdon who teed up McNulty. Bartlett made a great save low to his left but FLYNN put the loose ball into the empty net.

Sheffield United were torturing Pools and Bartlett made another superb save in the 13th minute from Woolford.

Pools managed to get into the away box on 32 minutes after a bright run by Rhys Oates down right but his inside ball eluded Lewis Hawkins.

The hosts had their first effort at goal just before the break when Jake Carroll headed into the side netting from Rakish Bingham’s cross.

There was time for some more excitement as Michael Duckworth cut in from right in the last minute and fired just wide with his left foot shot.

Half-time

Pools 0

Sheffield United 1

There was a good move from Pools at start of half involving Hawkins and Jones, but Fenwick’s shot at the end of it was a tame one and Long collected with comfort.

But it was encouraging stuff from Pools who were level in the 51st minute.

Bingham broke forward and played a beautiful shot ball to the left for FENWICK who beat Long from 15 yards.

It lifted the crowd and the players though the Blades remained a threat.

It needed a brilliant tackle by Duckworth on 62minutes to rescue Pools after Higdon had put Woolford through, but with the midfield set to shoot, the defender won the ball.

But it was his last involvement as he limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring strain, Josh Nearney coming on.

Pools had another crack at goal 20 minutes from time when Carroll burst forward with his left-foot piledriver flashing wide of Long’s left stick.

Woolford had a glorios opportunity 11 minutes from time from just eight yards, but Bartlett saved with his feet.

Full-time

Hartlepool United 1

Sheffield United 1

Pools: Bartlett, Duckworth (Nearney 63), Harrison, Worley, Jones, Featherstone, Hawkins (Nelson Addy 90), Carroll, Fenwick, Oates, Bingham. Subs: Denton, Oyenuga,

Goal: Fenwick 51

Booked: Worley 51

Sheffield Utd: Long, Alcock, McGahey, Kennedy (Sharp 85), McEveley, Basham, Wallace, Woodford, Flynn (Campbell-Ryce 72), McNulty, Higdon. Subs: Howard, Collins, Sammon

Goal: Flynn 7

Referee: Scott Duncan

Attendance: 2221 (away 366)