FULL-TIME REPORT: Pools 2 Boro 2

SKIPPER Sam Collins headed a late equaliser as Hartlepool United drew 2-2 with Middlesbrough at Victoria Park.

Neale Cooper’s men had taken an early lead courtesy of Antony Sweeney but the Championship side hit back to lead thanks to two goals inside four, first-half minutes from Scott McDonald and Adam Reach.

But Pools made it two unbeaten on home soil following their weekend win over Sunderland when Collins rose to meet a Jonathan Franks corner 10 minutes from time.

Pools were first to show and Evan Horwood’s teasing centre narrowly evaded the out-stretched boot of the sliding Sweeney on the fringe of the six-yard area.

Boro, though, had within their ranks the trickery of Emmanuel Ledesma and the Argentine went close on 12 minutes after a jinking run and sublime chip sailed inches wide of the home goal.

But it was the hosts who drew first blood on 18 minutes when Luke James manufactured room for a deep cross from the left which was turned home by the unmarked head of Sweeney.

The visitors always looked the more threatening of the sides and they duly levelled on 33 minutes.

Brazilian trialist Correa dropped a clever ball in behind the Pools backline and, when Neil Austin failed to clear, McDonald took full advantage in steering a low shot beyond Flinders and into the bottom corner.

And within three minutes Boro were ahead, winger Reach capitalising on yet more indecision in the Pools defence to smash home from six yards.

The Teessiders made 11 changes at the break and they were clearly the fresher of the sides after the interval, Tony Halliday stinging the palms of Flinders with a vicious strike from 20 yards inside 60 seconds of the restart.

Grant Leadbitter was next to have a go from similar range but again Flinders was equal to it.

Boro continued to boss the second half but they paid the price for their profligacy when Collins steamed onto Franks’ in-swinger to head beyond Conor Ripley.

There was a late chance for Marvin Emnes to restore the lead but he blazed over when through on goal.