Final whistle match report: Hartlepool United crash to 3-1 defeat to Stevenage

Scott Flinders
Scott Flinders

HARTLEPOOL United’s three game winning run on home soil came to a crashing end with a 3-1 defeat to Stevenage.

Graham Westley’s side took the lead in the 38th minute through Dave Martin’s finish from close range before substitute Scott Fenwick equalised four minutes into the second-half.

Stevenage restored their lead less than three minutes later, Ben Kennedy with the goal before he got his second in the 65th minute to seal the win.

Defeat leaves Pools seven adrift of safety at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two.

Stevenage, 10th in League Two going into the game, hadn’t won any of their last four matches while Pools had won their last three at Victoria Park.

The Stevenage back-four looked uneasy in the opening stages with Jack Compton and Jonathan Franks probing from the flanks.

It took until the 14th minute for the first attempt though, Aaron Tshibola with an effort that bounced into Chris Day’s gloves from 25-yards.

Dean Parrett then responded for the visitors two minutes later but his low drilled attempt was easily dealt with by Scott Flinders.

The visitors should have taken the lead after 22 minutes.

Dean Wells slashed his attempt from 8-yards horribly wide following a free-kick into the Pools penalty area.

Graham Westley’s side carved out a better chance in the 26th minute, Dave Martin cutting the ball back to Ben Kennedy at the near post but he smashed his effort wide from six-yards.

Pools had started brightly but faded as the half wore on and Stevenage took the lead in the 38th minute.

Michael Duckworth failed to judge a long ball into the box and Dave MARTIN took a touch before finishing low into the corner of the net.

Stevenage had been targeting the right-back and got their rewards.

Pools’ front pairing of Marlon Harewood and Marvin Morgan struggled against Bira Dembele and Dean Wells, the pair failing to hold the ball up and bring others into play.

Moore’s side were booed off at the break following a poor end to the opening 45.

Half-Time: Pools 0 Stevenage 1

It was no surprise to see Harewood hooked at the break, with Scott Fenwick coming on.

The striker had been carrying an ankle knock but was fit enough to make the subs bench.

And it took the former Dunston star less than four minutes to find the back of the net.

FENWICK was played in by Franks and the striker took a touch to wrong foot Wells before poking it into the corner of the net.

But the lead lasted all of three minutes.

Martin’s corner wasn’t properly cleared by Neil Austin, Martin allowed to cross again and KENNEDY rose highest to bullet home the header.

KENNEDY grabbed his second of the game in the 65th minute in bizarre fashion.

His shot was saved by Flinders but the ball looped up and spun into the net - despite the attempts of Mirfin who was chasing back.

It was a hammerblow and left Moore - and the Pools supporters - with their head in their hands.

Stevenage slowed the game down and frustrated Pools, who created very little of note in the second half as they whimpered to a home defeat.

Fenwick went close late on following a Compton cross but that was it as Pools were comfortably beaten.

Full-Time: Pools 1 Stevenage 3

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders (C), Duckworth, Harrison, Mirfin, Austin, Franks, Tshibola, Woods, Compton, Harewood (Fenwick, 45), Morgan (J. Jones, 75).

Subs Not Used: Maxted, Richards, D Jones, Walker, Featherstone.

Booked: Tshibola (90)

Scorer: Fenwick (49)

Stevenage (4-5-1): Day, Dembele, Wells, Bond, Whelpdale, Walton (C), Parrett (Lee, 77), Kennedy (D. Johnson, 89), Deacon, Martin (Andrade, 72), Beardsley.

Subs Not Used: Beasant, Zola, Pett, R Johnson.

Booked: None

Scorer: Martin (38), Kennedy (52, 65)

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 3,388 (72 Stevenage)