FULL-TIME: Hartlepool United snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Newport County

Michael Duckworth in action. Picture by FRANK REID
Michael Duckworth in action. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United came back from 2-0 down to snatch a dramatic point at home to ten-man Newport County.

Goals from Brad Walker and Michael Duckworth in the final ten minutes sealed a much-needed, morale boosting point for Paul Murray’s struggling side.

Pools, who remain bottom of Sky Bet League Two, had gone behind to goals from Chris Zebroski in the 38th minute and Aaron O’Connor’s 57th minute finish.

But Murray’s men rallied and secured themselves a valuable point thanks to two fine finishes at Victoria Park.

Murray, who was making his home debut as new Pools boss, made three changes to his side.

In came new signing Nicky Featherstone, Michael Woods and Marlon Harewood, while the club’s second signing of the week Sidney Schmeltz started on the bench.

Matthew Bates and Tommy Miller both missed out with calf injuries while Jack Compton and Stuart Parnaby (both knee) also remain on the sidelines for Pools - who did not name a sub keeper on the bench.

Pools started brightly and had two good chances to take the lead - Jonathan Franks seeing his well-struck shot saved and Charlie Wyke heading over the bar from six yards out.

Newport, who started the day in 7th place, also looked dangerous going forward with Scott Flinders forced into a point-blank save from a well-hit Aaron O’Connor volley.

Murray’s men created further chances with Harewood volleying just wide of the right-hand post from 12-yards out after good link-up play with Charlie Wyke.

But the inevitable sucker punch came in the 38th minute.

Franks played a loose ball back from the half-way line and Newport striker Chris ZEBROSKI took full advantage, rounding Flinders before colly slotting the ball home.

Pools were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area just before half-time but Harewood blasted the ball high into the roof of the Town End as Murray’s men went into the break trailing.

Half-Time: Pools 0 Newport County 1

It was a fairly even start to the second-half until Newport scored the simplest of goals to double their lead in the 57th minute.

A long ball forward wasn’t dealt with properly by Sam Collins initially, before Aaron O’CONNOR then got the better of Scott Harrison before finishing well past Flinders.

It was a quick, break-a-way goal.

Murray brought on Sidney Schmeltz for his debut, the pacy winger replacing Woods in the 64th minute.

Within seconds of coming on Schmeltz fired an effort inches wide of the left-hand post with almost his first touch.

A good way to endear him to the frustrated home supporters.

Moments later and Pools were given a lifeline, Newport captain Andy Sandell booked twice within a minute to see the away side down to ten men.

His first yellow was for a foul on Michael Duckworth, then from the resulting free-kick he was booked after a melee with Scott Harrison - which saw players from both sides involved.

Harrison was also booked for his part.

Duckworth burst forward in the 75th minute, before playing in Harewood whose low shot was cleared moments before it crossed the line.

With 10 minutes left to play Brad WALKER pulled Pools back in contention with a powerful finish from the edge of the penalty area.

The ball broke to Walker who smashed it first time past Joe Day.

Walker again forced Day into a smart save with a similar strike from distance in the 86th minute as Pools pressed forward.

The equaliser finally came in the 87th minute, DUCKWORTH doing brilliantly to jink his way into the box before finishing with aplomb to level the match.

The right-back celebrated in style with his trademark acrobatic somersault.

Wyke could have snatched all three points moments later but his shot was well saved.

Full-Time: Pools 2 Newport County 2

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders (C), Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Austin, Featherstone, Walker, Woods (Schmeltz, 64), Franks, Harewood, Wyke.

Subs Not Used: Richards, Jones, Brobbel, Hawkins, Crooks, Smith.

Booked: Woods, Austin, Harrison.

Goal: Walker (80) Duckworth (87)

Newport (3-5-2): Day, Porter (Klukowski, 61), Jones, Yakubu, Minshull, O’Connor Loveridge (78), Zebroski, Sandell (C), Hughes, Flynn, Obeng.

Subs Not Used: Pidgeley, Feely, Tancock, Patten, Collins.

Goal: Zebroski (38) O’Connor (57).

Booked: Sandell.

Sent off: Sandell.

Referee: Mark Brown (Lancashire)

Attendance: 3,172 (Newport 98)

Twitter: @RichMennearJP