Hartlepool 1 Leyton Orient 1: Kabamba makes it three in three - but Noble penalty miss sees Pools miss out on victory

Nicke Kabamba celebrates Pools' equaliser on 45 minutes.
Nicke Kabamba celebrates Pools' equaliser on 45 minutes.

Nicke Kabamba's third goal in three games saw Pools claim a point against National League leaders Leyton Orient - but a penalty miss from Liam Noble robbed them of a deserved all three.

Jobi McAnuff gave Orient the lead after 27 minutes, but that was cancelled out by Kabamba with the last kick of the first half.

The result saw Pools climb to 13th in the National League table.

On the selection front manager Craig Hignett made just the one change to the Pools XI, with Luke James coming in for Kenton Richardson, who dropped out of the matchday 16 altogether.

Keeping it simple Hignett had his men setting up in a 3-5-2, for those who like complicated it was more like a 3-3-2-2 with Sunderland loanee Luke Molyneux and Josh Hawkes playing off the front two.

Liam Noble made a return to the bench, with Aaron Cunningham named among the replacements, while the game came around too soon for Carl Magnay (knee).

Full of purpose and with considerable threat, Pools started this game how they ended the last, despite the fact there is 23 places separating the respective opposition, a fortnight apart.

Molyneux looked lively, Hawkes full of endeavour and Nicke Kabamba a handful.

But, despite Pools more than matching their opponents at both ends of the field, it was the hosts who took the lead. And there was a hefty slice of luck involved.

While Pools did not get out to McAnuff nearly as quickly as they'd have liked, his low shot took a big deflection off a home boot and squirted into the bottom corner of Scott Loach's goal, with the Pools keeper rooted to the spot.

The goal did not pop Pools' bubble, as has happened so often in the past. And they could well have been handed a penalty just four minutes after falling behind - Hawkes saw his standing leg swept away in the area but a lack of appeals did nothing to convince Martin Woods to point to the spot.

20-goal Macauley Bonne went within inches of making it 2-0 soon after when Loach missed a cross and the ball found its way to the O's top-scorer at the back post but his effort, with the goal gaping, went wide.

A goal down, Pools then suffered another blow as Molyneux, impressive between the lines, had to limp off despite trying to run a knee knock off. He's been outstanding since his arrival from Sunderland so Hignett & Co will be hopeful it's not too serious. On first viewing it did not look too good. Noble replaced the attacking midfielder on 43 minutes.

And he had a hand in Pools' leveller on the stroke of half-time as he found James, whose scrambling for the ball saw it pop out to Kabamba, who slipped home low past Dean Brill.

Three goals in three games for the Havant loan man.

Pools went in deservedly level at the break and they started the second period like they meant business, too.

And the chance to grab a second came just before the hour mark when a lengthy break from James resulted in Joe Widdowson tripping him in the area, handing Noble the opportunity to score from the spot.

It was one he did not take though, as a poor effort was easily saved by Brill.

That's scored eight, missed three for Noble now from the spot this season.

At the other end Loach had to be at his very best to deny McAnuff and Orient a second as the winger cut in too easily from the left before firing low at goal.

One penalty given, one not, it looked like it would be third time lucky for Pools but somehow referee Woods did nothing when Myles Anderson was halved in the area. It was fair but it was reckless. Nothing was given. Remarkable.

The game started to get a little ill-tempered after that incident with Anderson again involved in an altercation out wide, which seemed to see him caught in the face, but again nothing was given.

Despite considerable injury time - more than the five minutes added were played at the death - a goal apiece was the way it stayed.

It was a point gained, but the visitors will be happier with the return than the home side. It was a day which could have been returned so much more for Pools, who proved on their day they can mix it with the very best at this level.