Livingston 0 Hartlepool United 0: Not one to set pulse racing but not bad either

A 0-0 draw at Livingston –hardly one to get the pulse racing, is it?

But do we really want the high octane stuff at the Almondvale Stadium in July when there are nine and a half months of a gruelling League Two football to negotiate?

Aside from Green, who looked bright in the middle of the park, Harrison’s display was another positive and will have given him further hope of a place in the squad

.

Sorry to start with two questions. And answering no to both is not really being negative when Pools seem to be going in the right direction.

Craig Hignett has a full, fit and stronger squad at his disposal ahead of the real thing, when Colchester United come to Victoria Park, on August 6, just two Saturdays from now.

At the minute, getting his players match fit and getting his new signings in tune to the Hignett way are his priorities.

There was enough encouragement from Saturday’s match against the Scottish League One side, even if there were no goals for the second successive friendly.

Pools did get sight of goal a few times and you suspect, or at least hope, that the sharpness will come in due course.

On the evidence of Saturday’s display, Pools look pretty solid at the back while the midfield men all got plenty of time on the ball.

Pools got a lot of time on the ball full stop. The issue was when Pools were in or around the Livingston box, that last pass, idea, shot was just lacking.

But the trip up to Scotland proved a worthwhile venture. There were a few tasty little tackles, nothing outrageous, but the sort of challenges to get the players acclimatised to what they can expect in the Football League.

Hignett left keeper Trevor Carson at home to nurse a sore foot and Adam Bartlett, as you would expect, came in and performed to his customary high standards.

He was the first keeper called into action, diving to his left to save from Livi midfielder Shaun Byrne.

Play became a little bit end-to-end but Pools gradually began to enjoy the lion’s share of possession.

Last season’s top goal award winner, Lewis Hawkins, saw a long-range effort flash just wide of the post.

Billy Paynter’s a deflected shot was tipped over the bar by Liam Kelly who then produced a fine save to keep out a Nicky Deverdics free-kick.

Pools should have broken the deadlock at the end of the first half when Nathan Thomas won a corner after some clever footwork.

From Deverdics delivery from the right, it looked easier to score but Toto Nsiala could not connect and the ball struck Paynter and went wide of the keeper’s left stick.

It was the final involvement for all three Pools men with Carl Magnay and Lewis Alessandra also withdrawn.

Scott Harrison, Matthew Bates, Josh Laurent, Michael Woods and Padraig Amond all came on. And when Woods, Lewis Hawkins, Amond and Laurent teamed up in a slick move down the right in the 58th minute, Pools should have gone ahead only for Woods to shoot over the top with his left foot.

Jordan Richards, who came on at left-back for Jake Carroll should have given Pools the lead when he burst into the box but skewed his right-foot shot wide.

Bartlett had spent the majority of the second half barking out instructions and encouragement and his mouth was busier than his hands.

Even when Livingston did get near the away box, sub Matthew Knox’s 79th-minute daisycutter required a very routine save.

Kieran Green provided some impetus for Pools and he almost got Amond away with a lovely ball, while Rhys Oates had a sniff following good work by Woods, only for his control to let him down.

Both cases were symptomatic of the afternoon – Pools were almost in, but never quite did it.

Bates had a chance eight minutes from time when he had a close-range shot blocked before Green tried his luck from further out.

In fact, the teenager came close to being the late hero when his sweetly-struck 88th-minute shot was turned away for a corner by Kelly, diving to his right.

Having had nearly all the chances, there was almost a sting in the tail when Livingston tried to set Jack Ogilvie clear on halfway but Harrison read the danger and effected a crucial interception.

Aside from Green, who looked bright in the middle of the park, Harrison’s display was another positive and will have given him further hope of a place in the squad.

Fellow triallist, Liam Donnelly did his chances no harm at centre-half in the first half and right-back in the second.

Livingston: Kelly, Miller, Lithgow, Longridge, Halkett, Sinclair (Mullin 59), Byrne (Crighton 46), Pittman, Watt (Mullen 46). Carrick (Ogilvy 70), Buchanan (Knox 59)

Pools: Bartlett, Magnay (Harrison 46), Donnelly, Nsiala (Bates 46), Carroll (Richards 62), Featherstone (Green 70), Hawkins, Deverdics (Laurent 46), Alessandra (Woods 46), Paynter (Amond 46), Thomas (Oates 62).

Sub (not used): Dudzinski,

Referee: Steven Reid

Attendance: 313 (away 104)