MATCH REPORT: Rochdale 1 Hartlepool United 3

MASKED MAN: Gary Liddle gets in a first half shot. Picture by FRANK REID
MASKED MAN: Gary Liddle gets in a first half shot. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United broke their winning duck for the new season thanks to a stunning second-half double from substitute James Poole.

Mick Wadsworth’s men were forced into two changes on the morning of the game with Sam Collins and Colin Larkin withdrawing because of a hamstring strain and illness respectively.

That meant a reshuffle at the back with Neil Austin moving into the centre and Steve Haslam coming in at right-back.

Gary Liddle returned to the midfield with the aid of a protective face mask following surgery on a fractured cheekbone.

Those late changes did nothing to disrupt Pools’ early rhythm and they duly took the lead on seven minutes, Paul Murray sweeping a cross onto the brow of Adam Boyd who angled home from 12 yards.

Dale’s leveller came somewhat against the run of play, although questions must be asked of goalkeeper Scott Flinders.

Home skipper Gary Jones lifted a ball to the far post where Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro steered a first-time volley towards goal.

Flinders appeared to have it covered but the effort crept beyond his outstretched arms and the Frenchman had his second of the season.

The goal provided a lift for the previously lethargic hosts and they came within a whisker of taking the lead when Ashley Grimes’ deflected stab trickled wide on 32 minutes.

Colin Nish had looked out of sorts during the opening period and he limped out of the action on 37 minutes complaining of a tight hamstring.

But his replacement was to prove far more threatening and Poole restored the lead two minutes after the break, dispatching a sublime volley beyond a helpless Lucas from 20 yards.

Pools survived late scares as Peter Hartley blocked bravely from Jason Kennedy and Flinders saved well from a Joe Thompson header before Ritchie Humphreys sprang Poole clear on 87 minutes and he did the rest with a delicate dink over Lucas.

ROCHDALE - Lucas; Darby, Holness, Balkestein, Widdowson, Tutte, Kennedy (Thompson 62), Jones, Adams (Barnes-Homer 72), Grimes, Akpa Akpro. Unused subs – Kean (gk), Trotman, Twaddle

HARTLEPOOL UNITED - Flinders; Haslam, Hartley, Horwood, Humphreys, Liddle, Murray, Monkhouse, Boyd (Brown 70), Nish (Poole 38). Unused subs - Rafferty (gk), Baldwin, Holden