Hartlepool United 1 Maidenhead United 2: Pools' dismal run on-field run continues amid financial worries off it

Hartlepool United threw away a one-goal lead yet again on home turf as Maidenhead completed the National League double over Craig Harrison's men.

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 3:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 4:25 pm
Jake Cassidy celebrates scoring the opener

While off field issues, financial turmoil and the club being put up up for sale dominated the narrative in the run up to this one, Harrison & Co did little ease the nerves on the park.

Jake Cassidy gave Pools a first-half lead before an awful Louis Laing own goal then a Sean Marks strike extended the club's run without a win to five games.

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After a really quiet opening, the goal, which came on 27 minutes, seemed to spark Pools into life.

Within seconds of the restart Oates had tested Carl Pentney, then carved an opening down the left, beating his man before laying it on a plate for Michael Woods, only for Alan Massey to put in a brilliant last-ditch block.

The flow of the game was halted somewhat on 39 when the impressive Kenton Richardson was injured in a challenge and had to be replaced, with Donnelly switching to the right and Scott Harrison drafted into the heart of the Pools back four.

But that did not stop Harrison's men carving out opportunities.

And it was Oates again who was in the midst of the action.

A Deverdics free-kick was again right on the money, this time Oates was unable to produce the goods, getting his header all wrong when free, unchallenged in the area.

Dominant against a hesitant visiting outfit Pools could and should have gone in 2-0 up at the break.

As clinical as he was for the opener, Cassidy was wasteful on 44 minutes. A winding run down the left, dug out a brilliant Franks centre - Cassidy beat his defender and got the connection from six yards but it flew inches over Pentney's bar.

It was business as usual after the break as Conor Newton almost turned in a Blair Adams cross from the left. Somehow, he managed to divert wide when well placed.

Having dominated in terms of possession, field position and chances, Pools shot themselves in the foot on 50 as Louis Laing turned into his own net for an unexpected equaliser.

And given off field matters have taken precedence this week, the positivity seemed to drain from the Vic, as the reality of Pools plight on the field also hit home.

With confidence clearly low, and the visitors smelling blood, the game closed in on Pools and they were behind in the 77th minute when Marks tucked home after Loach had made a decent reaction stop.

And despite a last throw of the dice by Harrison - throwing kid Connor Simpson and Devante Rodney up top - Pools could not forge an opening.

They let too many chances go begging and were ultimately made to pay by their part-time opponents. Boxing Day's short trip to Tyneside, home for Harrison, has remarkable significance now, with Pools season slipping away from them.