FORMER Hartlepool United favourite Tommy Miller missed a second-half penalty for Swindon Town as an entertaining League One opener ended goalless.
The 33-year-old – making his league debut for The Robins – fired over the crossbar on 70 minutes after Peter Hartley had handled inside the area.
But defeat would have been on harsh on Pools as they produced a resolute showing in response to last weekend’s 5-0 League Cup defeat at Crewe Alexandra.
Paolo Di Canio’s men were first to show and both Andy Williams and Miller tested Scott Flinders with left-footed efforts from range.
Again the Robins threatened on five minutes when Paul Benson’s glancing header, from Matt Ritchie’s free-kick, bounced inches wide of the far post.
But Pools found their feet after a nervy opening and Jon Franks managed to locate Andy Monkhouse in an ocean of space at the far post on 16 minutes.
The winger had only Wes Foderingham to beat but lost his footing at the crucial moment and the chance was gone.
But within 60 seconds Pools survived a scare at the other end when Ritchie rose to turn Jay McEveley’s centre on goal.
Flinders, though, read the midfielder’s intentions and spread his frame to block.
It was end-to-end stuff and James Poole saw a 12-yard header loop over the visiting crossbar after Franks had again scampered clear down the left and centered.
Pools were now enjoying all of the attacking territory and Steve Howard fired down the throat of Foderingham from 20 yards.
It remained goalless until the break but it was Howard who came within a lick of paint of breaking the deadlock after half-time, the Pools forward cracking the post with a powerful header from Evan Horwood’s free-kick on 57 minutes.
Monkhouse was at the heart of everything good about Pools and he sent a swirling effort narrowly wide from 25 yards on 65 minutes.
But Town won their penalty against the run of play when Hartley handled from Ritchie’s delivery on 70 minutes.
Up stepped Miller and the midfielder blazed over, much to the delight of the home fans.
But Pools were rattled by the concession of the spot-kick and James Collins went close for the visitors soon after with a stinging drive from 18 yards.
The hosts were living on their nerves on Flinders was forced to scoop clear from the six-yard area after Ritchie had delivered a teasing ball into the danger zone five minutes from time.
But Neale Cooper's boys held on to claim a deserved point.