Bromley 1-0 Hartlepool United verdict: Unbelievable unbeaten run ends as National League title hopes slip
Hartlepool United’s title hopes took a huge blow as they were beaten 1-0 at Bromley on bank holiday Monday.
Jude Arthurs’ first half header was enough to secure victory for The Ravens and condemn Pools to their first defeat in 17 matches.
Gary Liddle was dismissed late on for Pools following a second yellow card as the defender suffered his first defeat of the season.
Here are four big talking points from the game…
After beating Chesterfield 3-1 less than 48-hours earlier on Saturday evening, Pools boss Dave Challinor hinted that he would be making some changes to his starting line-up against The Ravens.
And that he did as captain Ryan Donaldson returned for only his second start of 2021 and Fleetwood Town loanee Harvey Saunders made his full debut after coming off the bench on Saturday.
Lewis Cass dropped out with a knee injury and Rhys Oates dropped to the bench despite scoring against The Spireites.
A shaky start
Bromley, fresh having not played on Saturday, got on the front foot early and started to create problems.
Ben Williamson forced a one on one save from Henrich Ravas inside the opening two minutes.
National League top scorer Michael Cheek then had a goal chalked off for offside as Pools looked a little rusty at the back.
At the other end, they were still showing plenty of intent to get bodies forward and attack. The pace of Saunders in attack was an outlet for Pools as they clipped balls forward for the striker to chase.
Bromley's best chance of the half came just before the half-hour mark as Jude Arthurs’ free header from six-yards out somehow skimmed wide of the right post.
Just before the break Arthurs made amends as he nodded in Frankie Raymond’s cross from the left to give Bromley a half-time lead. Pools were left exposed down that side as Donaldson left the field briefly due to an issue with his foot.
Second half changes
Pools improved after the break with the introduction of Molyneux quickly creating a decent opportunity which was parried by Bromley goalkeeper Mark Cousins.
Cousins was called into action again as he parried Donaldson’s improvised edge of the box strike into the path of Armstrong whose diving header was somehow parried onto the post and collected by the Bromley goalkeeper as the score remained 1-0 to the hosts.
As the full-time whistle approached Ravas kept Pools in with a shout with a fine point-blank save to deny James Alabi at the back post.
A frustrating afternoon was summed up late on as Gary Liddle was given his marching orders with a second yellow card as Bromley saw out the win despite a glaring late miss by Cheek.
Unbeaten run over
After over two months without defeat, Pools find themselves on the losing side at a crucial stage in the season.
With four games remaining, they now sit fourth in the table and six points behind leaders Torquay United.
Winning the league was always going to be a big ask for Pools but Saturday’s defeat is a huge dint to their title hopes.
But that doesn’t take anything away from what Hartlepool have achieved this season.
There’s still a chance, but they can’t afford any more slip-ups.