MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Portsmouth 0

ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks. PIcture by FRANK REID
ON THE ATTACK: Jonathan Franks. PIcture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United missed the chance to move off the bottom of the table for the first time in nearly four months following a stalemate with relegation rivals Portsmouth.

Victory for John Hughes’ men would have seen them leapfrog second-from-bottom Pompey but a goalless draw keeps them propping up League One.

The point, however, takes Pools to within 11 of safety and extends their unbeaten run to four matches.

In a game of few chances Jack Baldwin was first to try his luck on seven minutes but he was never in control of his 20-yard swinger and it sailed over Simon Eastwood’s goal.

But it was the Hartlepool-born winger Adam Reed, on loan at Pompey from Sunderland, who was first to truly threaten, weaving his way into the area before drilling low across the face of goal.

Jed Wallace, the 17-year-old forward, had been Pompey’s star man during last month’s corresponding fixture and he was again lively, only a brave block from home skipper Peter Hartley denying his a clear blast on goal from 20 yards.

James Keene did find the target just moments later but Scott Flinders was equal to his 25-yard drill.

And it wasn’t until the 40th minute that Pools registered their first effort on target, Charlie Wyke hammering towards the far corner from a narrow angle but Eastwood flopped low to save and hold.

The first-half expired goalless with neither side having shown a great deal of attacking intent.

It was a similar story during the opening exchanges of the second period with the hour-mark passing without either keeper being called into action.

But there was a let-off for Pools when Wallace’s corner bounced through the six-yard area without any takers.

Within seconds the hosts were on the offensive and Baldwin skipped between two visiting defenders before smashing inches wide of the post with Eastwood beaten.

Baldwin was at the heart of everything good about Pools as they sought a winning goal and the teenager sent a left-footed volley bouncing narrowly wide when connecting from 20 yards.

There was one late shout for a penalty when visiting centre-back Sam Sodje appeared to control with his arm but referee Darren Bond waved away the appeals.