FULL TIME REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Portsmouth 0

Simon Walton gets in a first half shot at the Portsmouth goal. PICTURE BY FRANK REID
Simon Walton gets in a first half shot at the Portsmouth goal. PICTURE BY FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United failed to make it five consecutive home wins in the league after a goalless draw with Portsmouth at Victoria Park.

Pools were restricted to a few half-chances by Pompey in the first half of the Sky Bet League Two match in front of more than 4,000 fans but struggled to reach the heights of previous home matches.

Managerless Portsmouth, who had caretaker Andy Awford in the dugout, had the clearer chances in the opening 45 minutes, forcing Scott Flinders into making two smart saves.

Pools did carve out more chances of note in the second period but were unable to find a way past Trevor Carson.

Andy Monkhouse returned to the Pools line-up as manager Colin Cooper made just one change, with the winger coming into the team after serving his one-match suspension.

Jonathan Franks dropping to the bench.

Luke James, with 10 goals to his name already this season, started up front with support from James Poole.

Pools started the day in 13th place, six points off the play-off positions, with Pompey - backed by 500 vocal fans in the Rink End - down in 18th.

It was the home side, who had started slowly in the last few games, that had the better of the opening period with James Poole testing Trevor Carson in the 2nd minute with a powerful shot but the keeper was equal to it.

James was then put free down the left-hand flank and he crossed low towards the onrushing Jack Compton but the Pompey defence managed to clear their lines before he could connect.

Stand-in captain Neil Austin was left for dust by Pompey winger Andy Barcham in the seventh minute but his cross was expertly headed away by the diving head of Jack Baldwin.

The best chance of the game came in the 15th minute, Portsmouth’s Jed Wallace with a crisp left-foot shot that was tipped onto the left post by an outstretched Scott Flinders, making his 200th appearance for the club.

The ball spun back across the goal but was eventually dealt with by the defence.

Poole, who has been in impressive form in recent weeks, was again proving a thorn in the opposition defence and his mesmerising run in the 25th minute bought a foul 15 yards out, Compton’s free-kick sailing over the bar.

But it was Flinders who was again forced into making a save in the 27th minute.

Pompey forward Ryan Bird wriggled free from Baldwin just inside the penalty area and fired a shot towards the near post but Pools’ stopper was on hand to block with his hands.

The game settled down after a bright start but it was the away side who had created the clearer goalscoring chances.

Then, with five minutes to go before the half-time whistle, Monkhouse drove a 20-yard shot towards the Pompey goal but it was deflected narrowly past the post for a corner.

From the resulting set piece Simon Walton found himself free inside the area but his low effort through the crowd found the gloves of Carson.

Jed Wallace appealed for a penalty with moments to play but it was a well-timed sliding tackle from Walton, to put the ball out for a corner.

Half Time: Pools 0 Portsmouth 0

Pools were first out of the dressing room for the second half but it was Pompey that started more brightly, Flinders again forced into a great diving save to his left to deny Sonny Bradley who connected with his head from a corner.

Cooper was looking increasingly frustrated with his players, who seemed to be lacking in ideas going forward and too often reverted to a long aimless punt forward.

But roared on by the home crowd, Pools did manage to string together a short period of pressure on the hour mark.

In the 63rd minute, marauding right-back Michael Duckworth dribbled his way into the box and forced Carson into a fumbling save.

Then Compton tried his best to gee up the home side, cutting inside from the wing twice within minutes, but both moves came to nothing and he was subbed in the 65th minute, Franks taking his place on the right wing.

Ex-Pompey winger Compton had started walking to the bench before the fourth official had even put his number up.

Andy Barcham’s rasping left-footed shot in the 72nd minute tested Flinders but the stopper was again more than equal to it.

Bird then threatened to get the better of on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess inside the area two minutes later but the big defender was quick on his toes and nicked the ball away for a corner.

Duckworth was proving a useful outlet down the right flank for Pools and was getting forward at every opportunity.

Top scorer James had Pools’ best effort of the second half, running onto a Monkhouse flick-on, he got the better of the Pompey centre-half Bradley before firing a low shot from 20-yards.

Carson fumbled the save but had enough of his body behind to ensure the score remained 0-0.

Carson was again called into action in the 88th minute, tipping a powerful 25-yard Dolan strike over the bar for a corner.

It was the last chance of any note as the game ended goalless, with Pools now seven points off the play-positions.

Full Time: Pools 0 Portsmouth 0

Hartlepool United (4-4-1-1): Flinders; Duckworth; Austin (C); Burgess; Baldwin; Walton; Compton (Franks, 65), Dolan; Monkhouse; Poole (Sweeney, 76); James.

Subs: Rafferty; Collins; Richards; Rodney; Walker.

Booked: Dolan

Portsmouth (4-4-1-1): Carson; Devera; Whatmough; Bradley; Potts; Wallace (Connolly, 90); Ertl; Cooper; Barcham (East, 84); Holmes; Bird.

Subs: Sullivan; N’Gala; Padovani; Painter; Maloney.

Booked: Bird.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Halifax)

Attendance: 4,126 (Pompey 571)