A LATE goal at the death by substitute Koby Arthur snatched victory for Cheltenham Town over Hartlepool United in Sky Bet League Two.
Pools had defended well for the majority of the match but Arthur popped up in the 90th minute to head home past Scott Flinders.
It was as sickening blow for Colin Cooper’s side, their fourth defeat of the season.
The teams had gone into the break goalless with clear cut chances in the opening 45 minutes few and far between.
Both sides were solid enough at the back in the first half but more quality was needed in the final third.
Second half they were under the cosh and Arthur sealed the win late on.
Luke James, who has handed in two transfer requests, was back in the Pools squad but started the match on the bench at Whaddon Road.
Manager Colin Cooper named the same starting line-up from last weekend’s 2-1 win away at Wimbledon, Pools’ first victory of the season.
Highly-rated James missed last week’s match and Cooper confirmed afterwards that the striker hadn’t trained in the build-up to the match.
But the 19-year-old - subject of a rejected bid from Peterborough United - was back training at Maiden Castle earlier this week and was back in the squad.
Unbeaten Cheltenham, buoyed by last weekend’s 3-2 win at Tranmere Rovers were they came back from 2-0 down at half-time, started the match third in League Two.
Mark Yates’ side dominated the opening 10 minutes of the match, with Pools forced into making several clearances.
Cooper’s side couldn’t get enough time on the ball and spent the majority of the opening spell camped in their own half.
Byron Harrison blasted an effort high over the bar in the 9th minute, while Matt Richards shot from 25-yards moments later was easily gathered by Scott Flinders.
The first attempt for the away side fell to Marlon Harewood.
The experienced striker, full of confidence after opening his account in the Dons win, tried an ambitious over-head kick from 10-yards out but it trickled wide.
The onrushing Ryan Brobbel was far in a better position for a volley but the chance had gone.
Both sides struggled to retain the ball, with some sloppy passes from both sides.
Brad Walker - who signed a new contract at Pools on Friday - was guilty of playing two passes straight out of play when he had time to pick out a teammate.
The first real chance for the away side came in the 25th minute, on-loan Boro striker Charlie Wyke with a decent strike from 20-yards saved by Trevor Carson.
On the half-hour mark, Pools should have had a free-kick 40-yards out for a clear foul on Sam Collins.
But the referee waved play on and the ball eventually broke to Town left-wing back Craig Braham-Barrett whose fierce shot was well saved by Flinders.
There would have been strong rumblings from the Pools camp if it had led to a goal.
Five minutes before the break, Terry Gornell wriggled free inside the penalty area and fired in a shot which just clipped the right-sided post.
Flinders had the shot covered but it was the clearest attempt on goal of the first half.
Lee Vaughan burst past Brobbel on the 45 minute mark but his low cross was dealt with by Collins for a throw-in, just nipping in ahead of Matt Richards.
A half lacking in real quality.
Half-time: Cheltenham Town 0 Pools 0
Shortly after the re-start Richards escaped what looked like a clear foul and yellow card for a late challenge on Michael Duckworth.
But referee Christopher Sarginson just spoke with Richards and took no further action.
Pools’ first attempt came on the 51st minute mark, Brobbel with a smart cross from the left flank to the head of Wyke but his header was dealt with comfortably by Carson.
Cheltenham then had two glorious chances to take the lead in the 53rd minute.
Gornell’s header was cleared off the line from Duckworth and then moments later the ball was again whipped in and Gornell again found himself free.
But he lashed his shot high over the bar and stand from only eight-yards out. It should have been the opener.
Town looked the more likely to score, Steve Elliott found himself free inside the penalty area but his header was straight into Flinders’ hands.
The pressure from the home side was beginning to mount.
And they almost took the lead in the 63rd minute, sub John Marquis shrugging off Matthew Bates to get a low shot in on goal and the ball rebounded off the right-hand post.
Three minutes later and referee Sarginson was waving away a penalty appeal.
Flinders came rushing out and on first glance looked like he had wiped out Cheltenham strikers Harrison and Marquis.
But the ref said they had collided with each other.
Harewood, who had been booked earlier in the half, was then replaced with Michael Woods.
In the 83rd minute Flinders kept Pools in the game with a stunning finger-tip save onto the cross bar from a Marquis header inside the penalty area.
Sterling-James’ deep cross to the back post was met by the header of Marquis and it looked for all the world a goal.
But Flinders just managed to get enough onto the ball and onto the crossbar.
Brobbel was booked late on for tugging the shorts of the Town left-back.
It looked like Pools were going to hang on for the point but the away side were dealt a sickening blow in the 90th minute.
A Troy Brown cross towards the head of sub Koby Arthur and he nodded the ball past Flinders to snatch the win.
A sickening blow for Pools who had fought hard all afternoon at the back.
Full-time: Cheltenham Town 1 Pools 0
Pools: (4-4-2): Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Bates (C), Austin, Franks (James, 90), Miller, Walker, Brobbel (Compton, 90), Harewood (Woods, 68), Wyke.
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Richards, Holden, Harrison.
Booked: Harewood, Austin, Brobbel.
Cheltenham: (3-5-2): Carson, Brown, M Taylor (c), Elliott; Vaughan (Sterling-James, 68), J Taylor, Richards, Wynter, Braham-Barrett. Gornell (Marquis, 58), Harrison (Arthur, 78)
Subs Not Used: Haworth, Deaman, Hanks, Black.
Goal: Arthur (90).
Referee: Christopher Sarginson (Staffordshire)
Attendance: 2,735 (Pools 120)