Hartlepool United settle for draw as new owner Raj Singh's era officially dawns
Hartlepool Untied were forced to settle for a draw as the Raj Singh era officially began at Victoria Park.
The new owner was in attendance after his takeover was completed last night and he was treated to a fine opening half from Pools who took the lead through Ryan Donaldson before the impressive Scott Loach kept out a Brett Williams penalty.
But a controversial late red card for youngster Aaron Cunningham proved Pools’ undoing as Torquay made their second half superiority count with Rhys Healey rifling home a late equaliser.
That wasn’t enough to keep the Gulls in the National League, and forced Pools to settle for a point in their final home outing of the campaign.
New chairman Singh emerged to rapturous applause at Victoria Park, and it wasn’t the only time the Pools’ faithful would be on their feet during the early stages.
The hosts started brightly with Rhys Oates cutting inside and seeing a rasping effort parried away by Torquay stopper Vincent Dorel.
And the early dominance paid off after 14 minutes as Donaldson grabbed the opener – the winger finding time and space to line up his shot on the edge of the area with a wicked deflection helping it home.
But Hartlepool were to be indebted to Loach as he preserved their one-goal advantage at the break.
After Louis Laing was adjudged to have jumped unfairly alongside Rhys Healey, Loach dove to his right to save Williams’ spot kick before Aaron Barnes put the follow-up wide.
That saw Pools lead at the break although they were pinned back at the beginning of the second half as Torquay pushed forward.
Loach was at his best once again to tip a powerful effort from Healey over before Williams saw a header come back off the crossbar.
But the stopper was eventually beaten, thanks in part to a controversial refereeing decision.
Substitute Cunningham had barely been on the pitch when he was dismissed for what looked like a fair challenge – referee Simeon Lucas appearing to show the youngster two yellow cards in quick succession.
And the visitors made their man advantage count just moments later as the ball fell kindly to Healey who smashed home from inside the area to level things up.
That was the cue for a Torquay siege on the Pools goal, but the hosts managed to stand firm and secure a point.
Pools XI: Loach, Hawkins, Laing, Harrison, Adams, Featherstone, Hawkes, Newton (Munns 22), Donaldson, Oates (Cunningham 65), Cassidy
Subs Not Used: Catterick, Owen, Orrell
Goals: Donaldson (14)
Yellow cards: Newton (5)
Red card: Cunningham (81)
Torquay XI: Dorel, Davis, McGinty, Gowling, Young, Reid, Barnes (Efete 79), Balatoni (Dowling 63), Healey, Evans, Williams (Keating 84)
Subs Not Used: Clarke, Klukowski
Goals: Healey (82)
Yellow cards: Young (10)
Referee: Simeon Lucas
Attendance: 3,244 (152 away)