Braintree 1 Hartlepool 1: Another late strike denies Pools

Niko Muir is congratulated by Ryan Donaldson.
Niko Muir is congratulated by Ryan Donaldson.

A last gasp Mohamed Bettamer strike robbed Hartlepool United of their first National League win of the season.

Niko Muir's second goal of the season looked to have won it for Pools but two minutes into four added Bettamer popped up to crack home for a share of the spoils.

On the selection front Matthew Bates made FOUR changes from the side beaten by Edbbsfleet United last weekend. In came Myles Anderson for his debut while Michael Woods was given his first run out of the campaign.

Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson were also recalled.

Out dropped injured skipper Andrew Davies, Kenton Richardson, Jake Cassidy and Paddy McLaughlin.

It was skipper for the day Noble who had the chance from 12 yards to put Pools in front after Luke James was felled in the area.

Having struck it well enough, towards the keeper's right, Ben Lillip between the sticks for Braintree produced a fantastic stop to deny the Pools captain.

Dominant in the early exchanges, Pools looked sharper up top with Muir and James running in behind.

Playing in a more advanced role Muir was the catalyst to Pools' opener, as well as producing the end product.

The striker played a perfectly weighted ball on to Ryan Donaldson's chest on the right edge of the area. The wing-back's pass to the overlapping Noble looked too strong but the midfielder dug out a cross to Mark Kitching at the back post. His nod down found Muir, the man in the right place at the right time, who tucked in expertly from close range.

It was no less than Pools deserved.

Rampant in an attacking sense, Kitching, at times, was almost playing as a third striker, so advanced were Pools with the ball.

He had a change 10 minutes before the break to make it 2-0 and being brutally honest he'll be kicking himself that he didn't open his Pools account.

Muir dug out a cross from the right again and the left wing-back was arriving at the back post but he could not guide past the sprawling Killip.

How Pools didn't manage to extend their lead before the break would surely be the only frustrating factor for Bates, of what was an otherwise perfect attacking display in the first 45.

Just before the break Woods reacted sharpest to a wayward pass in the Braintree backline and burst through on goal but again the home keeper was on hand to deny as last season's top scorer tried to lift over his onrushing frame.

After a whirlwind opening, it was a more subdued start to the second 45 with Pools happy to hang on to what they have.

Substitute Irnti Rapai went close for Town as they put the foot on the pedal in the second half, pinning Pools back early doors, but at the other end the chances continued to flow as Peter Kioso went close with a header from a corner.

As time ticked way things got a bit nervy for Pools. Given the dominance in the first half, it all seemed a little unnecessary.

Luke Allen's volley had Scott Loach beaten all ends up, but luckily for Pools - 15 minutes from their first win of the campaign - it beat the far post, too.

And that was the way it stayed as Pools looked to have won it. But, as happened this time last week, they threw it away at the death as Bettamer drilled in.

This really was two points thrown away... Again.