HALF-TIME MATCH REPORT: Accrington Stanley v Hartlepool United in Sky Bet League Two

Luke James in action against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James in action against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United are drawing 0-0 at half-time in their Sky Bet League Two match away to Accrington Stanley.

It has been a frantic first opening 45 minutes but neither side have done enough to take the lead at the break, with several shots wide or high over the bar.

Pools are showing plenty of fight and commitment and just need to show a little bit more composure in the final third, while Stanley have enjoyed periods of pressure.

Experienced striker Marlon Harewood dropped down to the bench for the game against third-bottom Stanley.

Pools, currently five points off the play-off positions in 10th place, were beaten 2-1 at Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend.

Franks coming in is the only change for Cooper, with on-loan Manchester United forward Jack Barmby keeping his place behind the front two after scoring at the weekend.

Lancashire side Accrington, managed by former Premier League striker James Beattie, play at the Storefirst.com Stadium and won there on Saturday 3-1 against table-topping Chesterfield with dangerman Lee Molyneux bagging a first-half hat-trick.

Pools started the match in a 4-4-2 formation, with Jack Barmby and Andy Monkhouse playing wide right and left respectively, with a front two of Franks and Luke James.

Accrington stormed up field and won a corner after just 30 seconds but James Gray failed to take advantage of the resulting set piece.

Pools hit back well, with James being direct and purposeful from the off - winning two corners in the opening ten minutes with two clever pieces of play.

Holding midfielder Simon Walton was also amongst the action, shooting over the bar twice from the edge of the area, within the first 15 minutes, he had time and space to make more of the second attempt.

It was a fast and furious opening to the League Two encounter with the home side buoyed by their weekend win and Pools looking to make amends for the Wycombe defeat.

The first clear chance of the match came for Pools with Darren Holden’s long throw headed on by Andy Monkhouse towards Franks, but his tame header was easily held by Marcus Bettinelli.

Barmby was booked after 18 minutes, for a foul on the left-hand touchline.

He was followed by Brad Walker for a foul on Gray just before the half hour as the Accrington forward bore down on goal.

The resulting free-kick from 25-yards was whipped inches over the top of the bar by Molyneux.

The home side started building a sustained period of pressure and Will Hatfield forced a close-range save from Scott Flinders, with the ball spinning wide for a corner.

Franks then combined well with Monkhouse down the left-flank but the former Middlesbrough forward’s shot was defected wide of the post by Barmby.

Captain Sam Collins became the third Pools player to be booked, harshly, for a foul on Gray on the left hand touchline in the 32nd minute. Collins had just stood his ground but was booked.

Walton then saw his third effort sail over the bar from the edge of the area as the half came to a close.

It was entertaining at times with plenty of huff and puff but little clear cut chances in the opening 45 minutes.

Colin Cooper won’t be too disappointed though with that as his industrious side are showing plenty of fight and commitment in Lancashire.

Half Time: Accrington 0 Pools 0

Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Richards, Collins(C), Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby, James, Franks.

Subs Not Used: Rafferty (gk), Sweeney, Hawkins, Compton, Harewood, Poole, Rodney.

Booking: Barmby, Walker, Collins.

Accrington (4-4-2): Bettinelli, Joyce (C), Aldred, Winnard, Webber, Hatfield, Molyneux, Gray, Wilson, Windass, Buxton.

Subs Not Used: Dawber, Naismith, Clark, Mingoia, Odejayi, Atkinson, Bowerman.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)