Brentford 2 Hartlepool United 1: Late agony for Pools

HARTLEPOOL United were unlucky to go down to a 2-1 defeat at Brentford in their first game since the dismissal of first-team coach Mick Wadsworth, writes CRAIG HOPE.

The visitors fell behind 10 minutes from the end only for skipper Sam Collins to level soon after.

But within 90 seconds they had conceded a penalty and Gary Alexander turned home the winner after Scott Flinders had saved his initial effort.

Caretaker boss Micky Barron had handed a first start of the season to James Brown following his recovery from a groin strain with Nobby Solano dropping to the bench.

Brentford were first to show their attacking intent and Clayton Donaldson manufactured space on the edge of the area before whistling just inches wide of goal with Flinders beaten.

Just moments later the hosts were on the offensive once again and Sam Saunders’ in-swinging centre was guided just narrowly over the crossbar by the head of Alexander.

Alexander again went close on 29 minutes, Pools keeper Flinders showing razor-sharp reflexes to save after the striker had turned a header on target from point-blank range.

All the chances were falling the way of the home side and an errant Tony Sweeney pass allowed Niall McGinn to drive at a backpedalling Pools rearguard.

The midfielder jinked into the area but steered his low poke wide of both Flinders and the upright.

Pools, for all Brentford’s chances, performed well enough during the opening period and a new-look 4-3-3 system was offering some joy without the carving of any clear-cut openings.

It was Brentford who threatened first after the break and Alexander swivelled before lashing high and wide from 12 yards on 47 minutes.

Pools did fashion an attempt at goal for Andy Monkhouse on 63 minutes but his 20-yard blast skidded well wide.

But Pools should have taken the lead seven minutes later when Gary Liddle, having sprung the offside trap, slid across the face of goal for Monkhouse.

The frontman was left with an open target to aim at but hadn’t reckoned on the sliding Shaleum Logan producing an outstretched leg to hook clear.

And, from the resulting corner, Adam Boyd went close when glancing wide a header at the near post.

But Pools were eventually undone 10 minutes from the end when McGinn raced clear before lifting a delicate volley through the grasp of Flinders who should have saved.

Within three minutes, though, they were on level terms when captain Collins guided nonchalantly into the bottom corner from 20 yards after Brentford had failed to clear from a corner.

But 90 seconds later the visitors had conceded a penalty, Sweeney penalised for a trip on Toumani Diagouraga.

Up stepped Alexander but Flinders redeemed himself with a fine diving save only for the Bees forward to smash home the rebound from inside the six-yard area.

* Don’t miss Monday night’s Hartlepool Mail for the best report and reaction from Griffin Park