FULL-TIME REPORT: Pools 0 Crawley Town 1

HARTLEPOOL United winless run extended to a sorry 11 games as Crawley Town became the latest side to take maximum points from Neale Cooper's men.

Hope Akpan's first-half blast proved enough for Richie Barker's visitors and the defeat means Pools are six points from safety going into Tuesday's clash at bottom club Bury.

Pools were without skipper Peter Hartley and veteran midfielder Paul Murray for the visit of the fourth-placed Reds, both having picked up knocks during the midweek defeat at Leyton Orient.

In came Sam Collins and Simon Walton, while James Poole replaced Ritchie Humphreys.

Crawley started the stronger of the sides but were unable to fashion any clear openings despite their early dominance.

And so it was that Ryan Noble was first to threaten, sliding infield from the left before blasting narrowly over the visiting goal from 20 yards.

But it came as no surprise when Crawley seized a 14th-minute lead, Akpan smashing Walton's soft headed clearance back into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Rather than rest on their advantage the Red Devils went in search of a second and Jonathan Forte was thwarted by the gloves of Scott Flinders when he spun and levelled on goal from 12 yards.

Michael Jones was next to waltz through the home backline but he skewed horribly wide from the angle of the six-yard area.

That prompted a smattering of groans among the home crowd and they were again evident as the first-half wore on with little sign of improvement from the hosts.

And Flinders was again called upon just before the break when Gary Alexander drew another smart save from the home keeper as he went airborne to claw from the top corner.

Pools begun the second period with a little more zest and Neil Austin, hammering a free-kick on target from 25 yards, was denied a leveller when Paul Jones flapped clear.

At the other end Pools were fortunate to escape the concession of a second when Nicky Adams' cross flashed through the six-yard area with both Forte and Alexanders just inches away from turning home.

Full-back Austin was Pools' chief attacking threat and on 72 minutes he took aim for the bottom corner from fully 30 yards, only the fingertips of Jones denying him a stunning equaliser.

Steve Howard hooked over late on but that was as close as they came to salvaging what would have been an undeserved draw.