Hartlepool Utd 0 Yeovil Town 0: Another Vic stalemate

Hartlepool's James Poole (left) takes on Yeovil today. Picture by Frank Reid
Hartlepool's James Poole (left) takes on Yeovil today. Picture by Frank Reid

HARTLEPOOL United were held to a goalless home draw for the second time in five days at following a sluggish display in the mud at Victoria Park.

Having drawn a blank against Colchester United on Tuesday night, John Hughes’ men again toiled in front of goal with several of their number performing well below par.

There was good news elsewhere, however, with defeats for relegation rivals Scunthorpe United and Oldham Athletic seeing Pools close the gap to safety to six points.

But Pools missed the chance to reclaim serious ground and travel to Oldham on Tuesday night in desperate need of victory.

The sticky playing surface was not to Yeovil’s liking early on and, after a string of botched attempts to clear from Neil Austin’s low centre, James Poole eventually smashed just inches wide from the edge of the area – on reflection the forward will feel he should have done better.

Poole did find the target on 27 minutes but his 20-yard curler lacked venom and Marek Stech gathered with ease.

Pools, like the visitors, had been laboured to that point but a well-constructed offensive involving Poole and Evan Horwood down the left flank saw the latter fizz a low ball into the area.

Yeovil were at sixes and sevens but full-back Austin, joining the attack from deep at the far post, was unable to find a way beyond Stech and instead pulled back allowing the relieved Glovers to clear.

But Austin’s defensive uncertainty at the other end presented Paddy Madden with a sight at goal soon after and he smashed a thunderous drive off the underside of the crossbar.

Efforts from range were proving the best bet given the boggy conditions inside the penalty areas and Ritchie Humphreys swept an audacious 25-yarder just inches wide of the top corner in first-half stoppage-time.

Yeovil’s Gavin Williams tried his luck from similar range shortly after the restart for the second period but Scott Flinders was equal to the low blast.

Flinders was not as assured in grasping Ed Upson’s 20-yard volley on the hour mark, the ball escaping his clutches before dribbling wide.

Hughes sought to change things with the introduction of Steve Howard and Andy Monkhouse for Poole and Luscombe but Pools became even more careless, soon feeling the wrath of a disgruntled home crowd.

Pass after pass went astray and, from one such wasteful moment, Yeovil broke clear, Williams diving to get on the end of Upson’s dinked cross only to head straight at Flinders.

Pools’ final change saw Tony Sweeney replace Jon Franks and within 60 seconds he had been sprung clear on goal only for Stech to divert wide with his boot.

That was as close as the hosts came in the closing stages as a smattering of boos from the home support greeted the full-time whistle.