FULL-TIME REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Fleetwood Town 1

Colin Cooper on the sidelines during the game against Southend United. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper on the sidelines during the game against Southend United. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United failed to score for a fourth consecutive League Two outing as Fleetwood Town left Victoria Park with maximum spoils.

The game’s only goal arrived on 15 minutes when Jeff Hughes pounced from close range.

The result leaves Colin Cooper’s side in the bottom-tier drop zone with a trip to Torquay United next up on Saturday.

But it was Pools – fielding debutants Matty Dolan and Michael Duckworth - who started with more purpose and Jack Comtpon showed his marker a clean pair of heels before dropping a cross onto the forehead of Steve Howard.

The striker managed to steer his nod back across goal but Nathan Pond was well positioned to hack clear from the line.

Visiting goalkeeper Scott Davies was then drawn into a save when Dolan took aim from 25 yards, the custodian using his chest to block as the midfielder’s effort skipped up off the greasy surface.

And so it was that the opener came against the run of play, Antoni Sarcevic’s shot having too much zip for Scott Flinders to gather and Hughes was on hand to follow up and bundle home from two yards.

But Pools refused to surrender despite that concession and Brad Walker whistled wide with a classy drive from range.

James Poole was next to chance his luck with a snap shot from a half-cleared corner but again the hosts failed to trouble Davies.

Fleetwood entered the break in front but they had Davies to thank for preserving their lead when he blocked from Walton’s volley on 55 minutes, the keeper snaffling at the second attempt.

Sarcevic’s attempted to double their advantage at the other end but his 20-yard daisy-cutter was flipped around the post by the fingertips of Flinders.

The goalkeeper was beaten on 70 minutes but David Ball’s blast, from an acute angle, cracked the woodwork before spinning clear.

Pools were on the back foot but a break upfield did present a chance for Howard when Jack Baldwin swept over a cross from the right.

The striker climbed highest eight yards out but his looping header was clawed clear by Davies.

And that was as close as Pools came to drawing parity as another scoreless afternoon ended in defeat at the Vic.