Hartlepool 0 Barrow 0: Penalty miss saves Pools a point, but Matthew Bates' men miss chance to gatecrash top four

Peter Kioso ventures forward for Pools.
Peter Kioso ventures forward for Pools.

Hartlepool United missed out on the chance to go within a point of the National League summit but have the crossbar to thank for a point against Barrow.

A late penalty miss by Jack Hindle meant the game ended in a stalemate but Pools were again dominant on home turf despite the fact they could not break through the visitors banks of four.

On the selection front Matthew Bates stuck with the same side who delivered in their last four - with the full matchday 16 unchanged.

As they have all season, Pools had the lion's share of possession, but Barrow were stoic in defence, given Pools little to no option in the final third.

The visitors did have the first, and probably best, chance of the half when a cross from the right was turned high and wide by Tyler Smith after just three minutes with the goal at his mercy.

That, though, was about it from Cumbrians in the opening 45 as Pools grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

For all their dominance and ball, Pools could not unlock the door, though, despite some scintillating, passing stuff at times.

Ryan Donaldson went close after a jinking run, beating two men before skewing a shot wide, but apart from that it was a frustrating half of football for the hosts in front of goal.

The second half began like the first ended - resembling a defence v attack drill on the training ground.

But this time Pools were not quite as fluent and the opposition a little more of a threat on the break.

Luke James covered every blade of grass in the final third, with little reward in terms of chances but he did manage to fashion one for himself just before the hour. The run of the ever-willing Mark Kitching down the left opened up a yard or two in the middle and James unleashed one from distance, but with Andrew Firth rooted to the spot the ball sailed inches wide of his post at the Town End.

Strike partner Niko Muir turned over a chance from 18 yards after some tremendous work by Donaldson on the right before Pools survived a scare at the other end.

Carl Magnay's clumsy tackle in the area on Hindle was pulled up by referee Declan Bourne and a spot-kick was awarded.

Were Pools set to throw yet more points away late on? Not this time. Hindle picked himself up, dusted himself off but rattled his penalty off the bar. As you were.

And there was to be no twist in the tale for either side as Barrow finished with a flourish and Pools with a bit of a damp squib.

All told another point for Pools and another game unbeaten. Not a vintage show, not their worst either. On another, more favourable night, they'd have won this one, but without the crossbar coming to their aide it could have been loss number two.

A fair result and not a bad point in the grand scheme of things on a tough night against well-organised opponents.