Hartlepool United 2 Doncaster Rovers 1 - Late Newport strike relegates Pools from the Football League

Devante Rodney nets his first
Devante Rodney nets his first

Hartlepool United have been relegated from the Football League.

Two goals from substitute Devante Rodney saw Pools come from behind against promoted Doncaster Rovers, following an Andy Williams first-half opener.

Scenes after the second Pools goal

Scenes after the second Pools goal

But Newport County netted a late, late winner at Rodney Parade to ensure they maintained their fourth tier status and it is Pools who head for the National League next season.

Just after the half hour came the opener.

Williams looked every bit offside when he turned in after a scramble in the home area, the assistant referee on the touchline thought so, too.

But after consulting with man in the middle Mark Brown the goal was given, much to the disbelief of the Vic, and the Pools players who protested to no avail.

Matthew Bates

Matthew Bates

TV replays, though, show the officials were spot on, as the ball came back off Brad Walker before Williams got the chance from seven yards.

Just to compound the Hartlepool mood, moments after the strike a penalty was awarded at Rodney Parade, which was tucked home by Micky Demetriou.

Two goals in two minutes of play 280 miles apart gave Pools a mountain to climb.

Pools looked certain to be handed a shortly after falling behind when Ian Lawlor cleaned out Rhys Oates outside the area. It looked a red card in the making, especially with the Pools frontman crumpled in a heap on the deck.

But Brown was unmoved, instead preferring to wave play on as Oates lay helpless.

Lewis Alessandra mustered the hosts first meaningful effort on target just after the break but his rasping effort was palmed up in the air by Ian Lawlor. But rather than land to a Pools shirt, the ball looped kindly into the goalie's arms.

This was very much starting to look like it was not to be Hartlepool's day.

As the game ticked over to the 65th minute the Vic erupted - not having witnessed a Pools equaliser but as news filtered through of a Notts County equaliser in Wales.

Could 'the great escape take two' be on the cards?

Matthew Bates threw caution to the wind - first Nicky Deverdics was asked to provide a spark he has failed to conjure all season and then Rodney given a run in a newly hatched front three with Oates and a limping Padraig Amond.

It proved a masterstroke by Bates, whether it be luck or judgement. Not bad for two games managerial experience, either way.

Rodney, on the pitch for all of a few minutes, got on the end of a scrambled clearance from a Amond cross to coolly slot in the equaliser.

And with eight minutes to go Amond broke free down the right, crossed for Rodney, who beat two men, then the keeper before slotting in from 10 yards.

Punters flooded the pitch, players embraced, but this was far from over, here or at Rodney Parade.

Eight nervous minutes ensued, Donny went close, Pools gritted their teeth. Minute after minute, news of a Newport winner did not materialise.

Seven minutes were added at Pools, and then the sucker punch came. Newport netted a winner and with that Pools were relegated.

Spirit, fight, battle. All of that came to nothing and Hartlepool left themselves too much to do on the final day. Ninety six and out.