MATCH REPORT: Newport County 2 Hartlepool United 0

SHOOTING STAR: Pools star man James Poole has a crack at the County goal. Picture by FRANK REID
SHOOTING STAR: Pools star man James Poole has a crack at the County goal. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United have been beaten 2-0 by Newport County at Rodney Parade in Sky Bet League Two.

Centre back Harry Worley rose highest from a 6th-minute corner to head the ball past Scott Flinders and give the home side a 1-0 lead.

That lead was extended against the run of play in the 64th minute, courtesy of Conor Washington’s poked effort from close range.

Pools gaffer Colin Cooper made two changes to his Hartlepool United side for the Sky Bet League Two match away to Newport County at Rodney Parade.

Jack Compton and Christian Burgess returned to the Pools starting 11 with veteran defender Sam Collins and winger Jonathan Franks dropping down to the bench.

Brad Walker, this week called up to a two-day England Under-18 training camp, started the game on the bench.

It was a frantic start to the game and Pools, who were playing their third game in six days, started slowly against a direct and pacy Newport side.

Buoyed on by a vocal home crowd, Justin Edinburgh’s team took the lead in the sixth minute.

Harry Worley rose highest on the six-yard line to power a header into the corner of the net past Scott Flinders from a Robbie Willmott corner.

Cooper’s side couldn’t get a foothold in the game in the opening stages and several passes went astray and long balls kicked out for throw ins, as Newport continued to push forward.

Pools did have a chance in the 17th minute, right-back Michael Duckworth had a fierce shot blocked and the ball fell to James Poole but his tame effort was straight at Lenny Pidgeley in the Newport goal.

Cooper’s front pairing of Luke James and James Poole struggled to find a way through the Newport back-five, whose full-backs pushed forward at every opportunity.

Adam Chapman in the centre of the Newport broke free in the 19th minute and fired a shot at goal but Flinders was able to get his hands and body behind it.

Then in the 22nd minute, Poole created Pools’ first real chance - testing the goalkeeper from the edge of the area but his goal-bound shot was tipped round the left post by the flying Pidgeley for a corner.

Conor Washington had two good efforts just wide as Flinders’ goal continued to come under the cosh.

The pace of the game rarely settled as the half-wore on but Pools managed to match them in the fitness stakes, if not the possession stakes.

In the 39th minute, Pools survived a penalty shout when Conor Washington was involved in a tussle with Jack Baldwin in the penalty area and the home forward went to ground but the referee Stephen Martin waved play on.

The decision infuriated Edinburgh in the home dugout.

There were no other clear cut chances as the referee blew for the half-time break.

HALF TIME: Newport County 1 Pools 0.

The pace of the game had settled by the start of the second half, with the Pools players visibly pushed further upfield.

Duckworth did well in the 53rd minute, playing the ball inside to Poole whose shot from just outside the penalty area was deflected wide for a corner.

Two minutes later Duckworth was again involved, heading a floated Matty Dolan cross back towards the top corner but Pidgeley was able to snatch it in mid-air.

The chance was originally created thanks to the driving run of Poole, who was having a good game on a freezing night in south Wales.

Poole looked the most likely to score and in the 61st minute he turned on a sixpence on the edge of the area and shot low but it was deflected wide.

Cooper’s team was made to pay as three minutes later Conor Washington extended Newport’s lead.

The forward poking the ball home with his left boot from around the six-yard area after a low cross from Christian Jolley managed to evade the Pools defence.

It was against the run of play but deserved for their first half dominance.

Nine-goal top scorer Luke James had been quiet and struggled to make an impact and he was hooked for Jonathan Franks with 20 minutes left to play.

Andy Monkhouse was pushed up front, with support from Poole.

Newport’s second goal had taken the wind out of the sails of the Pools players as County continued to push forward looking for a third goal.

Antony Sweeney came on for Compton with 10 minutes left to play to add more energy in the final third.

Newport fans were calling for a second penalty moments later when Simon Walton challenged substitute Mike Flynn in the box.

But again the referee was adamant it wasn’t a foul.

Teenager Bradley Walker, called up to an England Under-18 training camp this week, came on with five minutes to play and burst through in the 91st minute, squaring the ball to Monkhouse who cracked an effort of the left hand post.

It was the closet Pools had come all night as Newport held on for a deserved 2-0 win.

FULL TIME: Newport County 2 Pools 0

Pools: Flinders, Austin (C), Baldwin, Burgess, Duckworth, Dolan, Walton (Walker, 85), Monkhouse, Compton (Sweeney, 81) Poole, James (Franks, 70).

Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Collins, Richards, Rodney, Walker.

Newport: Pidgeley, Yakubu (C), Chapman, Crow, Willmott, Washington, Jackson (Jones, 78), Naylor, Oshilaja, Worley, Jolley (Flynn, 65)

Subs Not Used: Stephens, James, Minshull, Redman.

Referee: Stephen Martin