MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United v Notts County

Luke James celebrates his goal i against AFC Wimbledon. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James celebrates his goal i against AFC Wimbledon. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United are leading 2-1 against Notts County at half-time in the First Round of the FA Cup, writes Richard Mennear.

Goals from Jack Baldwin and Luke James have given Pools the advantage at the break with Dean Leacock scoring a fortunate goal for County.

Sky Bet League Two manager of the month Colin Cooper made just one change with defender Sam Collins coming in for Christian Burgess who missed the game at Victoria Park with a one-game suspension after collecting five yellow cards.

Winger Jonathan Franks retained his place in the starting line-up, with Jack Compton returning to the bench after serving his three-match suspension.

Meanwhile, League Two player of the month Luke James again started up front for Pools, who were sporting a one-off Poppy fundraising shirt. The 18-year-old looking to add to his seven goals this season.

Former Pools player Gary Liddle started for Notts County, who have a new manager in the shape of Shaun Derry.

Both teams took to the centre circle before kick-off as the whole ground observed an immaculate one-minute silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

It was a tentative opening 10 minutes with Franks’ blocked shot from the edge of the area the closest either side came to an effort on goal.

Then, in the 12th minute, a deflected Neil Austin cross looped onto the crossbar and away for a corner with Bartosz Bialkowski in the away goalkeeper looking on.

It wasn’t long before Pools took the lead, Jack Baldwin with a bullet header from six-yards from a pin-point Simon Walton free-kick after James Poole was fouled on the left wing.

The lead didn’t last long though and Notts County pulled level thanks to a goal their centre-half Dean Leacock knew nothing about.

Matty Dolan cleared a corner in the box and it hit the back of Leacock and rocketed past Scott Flinders who could do nothing but watch it fly into the net.

James Poole was clattered shortly after their equaliser but was able to carry on despite a heavy blow to his lower back.

Leacock had a great chance to put County 2-1 up but his angled header was saved by the diving Flinders low to his right after the big centre took advantage of a deflected Gary Liddle cross.

Andy Monkhouse and on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan had opportunities to test the keeper but the winger’s effort was blocked and Dolan’s bounced comfortably into the hands of the goalkeeper.

It was Monkhouse again in the 33rd minute after he jinked inside and fired a right-footed blast towards goal but the diving head of ex-Poolie Liddle deflected it over the bar.

Baldwin again found himself free from the resulting corner but his header was this time saved.

Callum McGregor went close in the 35th minute but Flinders was alert to collect the ball comfortably into his chest.

It was McGregor again moments later who should have put County in front. Liddle’s header clipped off the post but the tumbling McGregor was unable to poke the ball into the net from a yard out and Pools survived.

But it was the home side who took the lead again thanks to the lively James.

He prodded the ball in after Bialkowski saved Michael Duckworth’s low drive from 20-yards out and the ball deflected into his path.

The half-time whistle went with Pools leading 2-1 at the break.

Hartlepool United: Scott Flinders, Michael Duckworth, Jack Baldwin, Sam Collins, Neil Austin (C), Jonathan Franks, Simon Walton, Matty Dolan, Andy Monkhouse, James Poole, Luke James.

Subs: Andy Rafferty, Jack Compton, Antony Sweeney, Jordan Richards, Darren Holden, Nialle Rodney, Bradley Walker.

Booked: Monkhouse.

Notts County: Bartosz Bialkowski, Alan Sheehan, Gary Liddle, Dean Leacock, Jack Grealish, Callum McGregor, Yoann Arquin, Joss Labadie, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Curtis Thompson, Mark Fotheringham.

Subs: Manny Smith, Enoch Showunmi, Andy Haworth, Ronan Murray, Fabian Spiess, Greg Tempest, Andre Boucaud.

Booked: Labadie

Referee: Carl Boyeson. Assistant Refs: D. Street, B Roberts.