Hartlepool United 0-0 Tranmere Rovers: Pools forced to settle for second successive home draw

Hartlepool United were forced to settle for a point against Tranmere Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)Hartlepool United were forced to settle for a point against Tranmere Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Hartlepool United were forced to settle for a point against Tranmere Rovers. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)
Hartlepool United were held to their second straight goalless draw at the Suit Direct Stadium against Tranmere Rovers.

Jake Hastie spurned the best opportunity of the evening for Pools midway through the first half when Ross Doohan denied him clear on goal as a fairly even contest ended all square.

The main decision for manager Paul Hartley ahead of the game would be whether or not to hand a debut to new recruit Wes McDonald, after the winger was ineligible against Northampton Town due to his late registration.

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And indeed the former Birmingham City and Walsall winger was given the nod as Mohamad Sylla dropped to the bench.

McDonald joined Hastie in a front three as Hartley tweaked his formation slightly to provide more width in his team, with Callum Cooke dropping back into the midfield anchor role alongside Nicky Featherstone after his spell in the No.10 position at Sixfields.

Ellis Taylor returned to the bench for Pools as both Tom Crawford and Mark Shelton missed out.

Hartley had made little secret of the importance of a double-header on home soil this week and Pools started with that kind of intent as they enjoyed the lions share of things in the opening 10 minutes.

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New signing McDonald was quickly into the action as he danced his way in from the left to curl an effort at goal only for Chris Merrie to block.

And McDonald showed his clever footwork again moments later when dazzling Byrne and Josh Dacres-Cogley to win a corner.

But the first real chance of the game fell to the visitors, who began to grow into the game following Pools’ bright opening.

Reece McAlear and Kane Hemmings had a nice exchange on the edge of the area before the former saw his rising attempt saved by Ben Killip.

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It seemed to spark a reaction from Pools who should have taken the lead just before the half-hour when Cooke was able to poke a bouncing ball over the head of Neill Byrne to set Hastie clear on goal down the middle.

But the Scotsman’s touch was slightly heavy, though, which invited Doohan out of his goal and he stayed big to thwart the former Rangers man.

David Ferguson drilled a low pass into the feet of Josh Umerah who spun to find McDonald and he cleverly picked out Ferguson, who had continued his run into the area, but was crowded out just as he was about to pull the trigger.

Jordan Turnbull saw a goal chalked out after the defender expertly finished McAlear’s scooped ball back into the area with the offside flag raised before Byrne fired high and wide on the stroke of half-time with the scores level at the break.

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Hartley altered his system at the break as Euan Murray was replaced by Sylla with Pools reverting to a back four.

And it almost yielded a goal within minutes of the restart as McDonald tricked his way into the area on the left but was a little too rash with his effort which went over the bar.

Pools, and Rollin Menayese, were a little fortunate on the hour when a loose clearance was picked up by Elliott Nevitt who drove along the edge of the area before Jamie Sterry did just enough to force him off target.

Former Pools man Josh Hawkes came on midway through the second half for Micky Mellon’s side and forced Killip into a smart save from a tight angle before testing him again from distance which was this time well held by the Pools No.1.

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And it was Hawkes who might have given the points to Tranmere in the closing stages when Dacres-Cogley’s cross from the right landed at his feet from 12 yards but his venomous strike was excellently blocked by Sterry.

It means Pools’ wait for a first win of the season goes on after a second consecutive goalless draw at the Suit Direct Stadium.