Hartlepool Utd 0 Stevenage 0: Pools shut out again

Hartlepool United maintained their unbeaten run at home after a goalless draw with Stevenage at Victoria Park, writes Richard Mennear.

It wasn’t a game for the purists as Neale Cooper’s men recoded a second successive 0-0 draw in a battling display lacking any real quality.

It means, Pools extend their unbeaten home run to six matches.

Cooper named an experienced starting eleven with captain Sam Collins and midfielder Gary Liddle coming in for teenagers Lewis Hawkins and Josh Rowbotham.

The teenagers started last week’s goalless draw at Walsall but dropped down to the bench for this afternoon’s League One fixture.

It was a tightly contested opening ten minutes with both sides showing plenty of spirit but lacking any real creativity or cutting edge.

It took 18 minutes for the first chance of any note to be created.

Pools’ Ritchie Humphreys appeared to unintentionally dummy a Paul Murray pass to the onrushing Evan Horwood who skipped down the left wing and crossed for Gary Liddle on the edge of the area.

He laid it back for Monkhouse who blasted over when he should have done better.

Murray’s gutsy performance at the heart of midfield typified Pools’ performance with a lot of huff and puff but missing any real guile in the final third.

In the 24th minute, Sweeney, largely anonymous for the opening twenty minutes, sparked into life and fired a cross across the box but there wasn’t a blue and white shirt anywhere near.

Pools got stronger as the half wore on and almost took the lead courtesy of a strong Jack Baldwin header but his effort was tipped away for a corner by Stevenage keeper Chris Day.

Gary Smith’s Stevenage side created a couple of half chances with forward Jordan Slew their liveliest player, but the half ended goalless.

Cooper brought striker James Poole on for midfielder Baldwin at half time and reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 formation.

The second half started where the first left off with few chances created by either side.

Stevenage should have scored in the 57th minute, Luke Freeman firing wide from 12 yards after good work down the left wing by Slew.

Hartlepool’s best chance of the half came in the 70th minute courtesy of a left-footed volley from Poole 25-yards out but Day was equal to it with a smart save to his right.

From the rebound, Horwood was played in down the left and his whipped cross found Sweeney swooping low but his brave headed effort was deflected over.

The second half petered out with few chances for either side as Cooper’s men recorded a second successive 0-0 draw.