Hartlepool 1 Rochdale 2: Pools beaten by Dale despite late rally
Hartlepool United signed off Checkatrade Trophy duty with yet another loss, this time to League One Rochdale.
Pools were beaten 2-1 at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium by the Dale, who were through before a ball was kicked, courtesy of goals from Reuben Noble Lazarus and Matthew Gillam. Rhys Oates got a late consolation.
The defeat sealed a clean sweep for Craig Hignett's men, who crash out at the group stage, in the controversial cup, having previously suffered defeats to Notts County and Sunderland Under-23s.
Hignett has made seven changes from the side which saw off non-league Stamford at the weekend for this Checkatrade dead rubber.
Adam Bartlett came in for Trevor Carson in goal, with the Northern Irishman away on international duty.
Jordan Richards kept his place on the right of the back four, as did Matthew Bates, playing just his second game since August, alongside him. Scott Harrison and youngster James Martin completed the back four.
Liam Donnelly, fresh after missing the weekend FA Cup victory through suspension, slotted into holding midfield playing alongside Michael Woods and Brad Walker.
Up top club captain Billy Paynter got a run after his goal on Sunday, supported by Nicky Deverdics and Jake Orrell.
The opener came midway through the first-half when a slide rule pass set Noble Lazarus free down the left-hand side of the box and the forward finished into the bottom corner of Bartlett's net.
It was 2-0 when a Nathaniel Mendez Laing cross from the right was tucked in by youngster Gillam from close range.
With just four minutes left on the clock Pools got themselves back in it when Oates was played in by Orrell and taking advantage of a slip by keeper Josh Lillis, the striker slotted home confidently.