Hartlepool 1 Kidsgrove 0: Unconvincing Pools edge through to FA Cup first round

Pools' players celebrate Niko Muir's goal.
Pools' players celebrate Niko Muir's goal.

Hartlepool United progressed to the first round proper of the FA Cup - but were far from convincing in beating spirited eighth tier outfit Kidsgrove Athletic.

A solitary strike from Niko Muir after just eight minutes made sure Pools' name is in the hat on Monday, but they were made to work for victory by their part-time opponents.

Niko Muir turns in from close range.

Niko Muir turns in from close range.

On the selection front Matthew Bates resisted the temptation to make changes to the side who battled to a 0-0 draw at Leyton Orient - a signal of the club's intent in the competition.

And in the opening exchanges the two sides were poles apart with Pools dominating all over the park.

It was no surprise to see the home side edge in front when Muir turned home a headed cross from Liam Noble from close range. It was the striker's fifth goal of the season.

Pools then had a 20-minute period where they threatened a rout - Luke James saw an effort saved by the impressive Dominic Kurasik between the Kidsgrove sticks, Andrew Davies saw a header cleared off the line while Michael Woods' goal-bound effort was nodded over the top by defender James Butler.

The all-important second goal did not arrive and with that the visitors gained a certain degree of hope.

After the break they peppered the Pools goal, creating openings galore as Bates' men were sluggish into the second 45.

Kidsgrove almost managed to force a replay as the game ticked into the final quarter - first Kyle Diskin tested Scott Loach low down, then from the resulting corner he again had to be at his best to keep out a low header.

Ryan Donaldson, Nicky Featherstone and Carl Magnay all had chances to round things off for Pools late on but not one of that trio could hit the target when presented with opportunities.

Pools progressed but were far from convincing. Performance matters little, though, the fact they're in the next round, have £25,000 in the bank is consolation enough.