CHARLIE Wyke’s first goal for Hartlepool United secured a 1-1 draw away to Shrewsbury Town this afternoon, writes Richard Mennear.
The on-loan Middlesbrough striker’s deflected effort in the 55th minute cancelled out Jon Taylor’s first half goal in bitterly cold conditions.
It means bottom of the league Pools have won four points from the last two away matches.
Manager John Hughes named an unchanged side from the home defeat to Preston North End with Wyke continuing his partnership up front alongside Steve Howard.
Meanwhile, youngster Jordan Richards continued his spell in the side at right back in place of the experienced Neil Austin who was again on the bench.
A total of 127 dedicated Pools fans made the long trip south in hope of seeing their side carve out just the third win of the season.
It was a bright enough start for Pools who started the game with a narrow midfield trio of Ritchie Humphreys, Antony Sweeney and Jonathan Franks with Simon Walton in front of the back four.
Howard should have given the away side the lead but his free header from just six-yards out only managed to find the chest of Shrewsbury keeper Chris Weale.
The burly frontman was once again the focal point and he linked up well with Wyke in the opening stages.
Dangerman for the home side was Marvin Morgan who had two good efforts saved by Scott Flinders either side of a 25-yard effort from Franks, whose effort was tipped over the bar by Weale.
True to form it was the home side that took the lead in the 23rd minute after sloppy work by Pools’ back four, who had looked solid in the opening stages.
But they failed three times to clear the ball before the lively Jon Taylor was allowed to turn in the box and fire low past Flinders.
Wyke and Richards then had good chances to pull Pools level but the on-loan striker sliced wide from 12-yards in the 31st minute and a low skidded effort from the Pools right-back flew harmlessly wide six minutes later.
Taylor should have doubled the lead for the home side just five minutes before the break but he fired high over the bar from six yards after good work from frontman Luke Rodgers.
There wasn’t much between the two sides but a sloppy piece of defending was enough to give Shrewsbury the lead at half time.
Pools started the second half brightly and Franks was allowed to shoot from distance but Weale was equal to it and smartly turned the ball away for a corner.
Hughes’ side equalised in the 55th minute through Wyke’s deflected effort after good work down the right from Franks. Weale had no chance as Wyke’s effort flew past him.
Pools visibly grew in confidence after drawing level with Richards and Evan Horwood providing good width down both flanks.
Antony Sweeney had a half-hearted penalty shout turned down in the 62nd minute before Howard had a strong header cleared off the line from Taylor after another pin-point cross from Horwood.
Graham Turner’s Shrewsbury side started to come back into the tie and captain Matt Richards had a good chance in the 75th minute but thundered his effort high over the bar from inside the area, to the relief of Flinders.
Hughes made a double substitution a minute later with James Poole and Neil Austin coming on for Wyke and Walton, with the lively Franks pushed further up field alongside Howard.
In the 83rd minute Matt Richards’ dangerous cross from the left hand flank just evaded substitute Tom Bradshaw’s head in the Hartlepool box and Horwood scooped the ball to safety.
There was late drama as Shrewsbury threw everything at Pools.
David McAllister’s effort from distance was well parried by Flinders in the 92nd minute before Flinders made a fabulous save diving to his right to deny Luke Summerfield.
The follow-up effort from Bradshaw rattled the cross bar and was cleared away to safety as Pools held on for a well-deserved point.
Hartlepool: Flinders; Richards; Collins; Hartley ©; Horwood; Franks; Walton (Austin, 76th); Sweeney; Humphreys; Wyke (Poole, 76th): Howard.
Subs: McHugh; Monkhouse; Baldwin; Holden; James.
Shrewsbury: Weale; Grandison; Jacobson; Jones; Purdie (McGinn, 65th); Richards; Morgan (Summerfield, 75th); Taylor; Goldson; McAllister; Rodgers (Bradshaw, 65).
Subs: Anyon; Parry: Mambo; Gayle.