Notts County 1 Hartlepool 0: Former Sunderland flop downs Craig Hignett’s men

Rob Jones heads clear for Hartlepool. Pic: Frank Reid
Rob Jones heads clear for Hartlepool. Pic: Frank Reid

Hartlepool United suffered a narrow one-goal defeat at the hands of Notts County after Jon Stead’s goal at Meadow Lane.

Rhys Oates had a first-half chance for Pools saved while Rob Jones’ had a shot cleared off the line in the second half.

Ex-Sunderland man Stead scored his third against Pools this season during a good spell for the hosts shortly after half-time in an otherwise even match.

County moved level with Hartlepool in League Two after Craig Hignett’s fifth defeat as manager.

Pools started strongly but the first real chance of the game fell to the hosts as Izale McLeod’s half-volley from inside the area was blocked by Adam Jackson.

Hignett’s men continued to impress, twice opening the County defence up before their first effort on goal in the 35th minute.

Michael Woods showed great skill to beat two defenders in a driving run from midfield, but, when the loose ball fell to Oates in the area, his shot was blocked by the legs of ‘keeper Scoot Loach.

The home side’s best chance of the half came in the 38th minute as Stead found Liam Noble in space on the left side of the box but the midfielder shot tamely at Trevor Carson.

Three minutes before the break Oates drove down the left, beating the challenge of Mike Edwards but he dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Minutes after the restart, following a Pools attack, County broke quickly and the ball found Wes Atkinson but his low shot was well saved by Carson.

Moments later Carson was again tested, this time from McLeod but the Northern Irishman saved well.

Notts County made their early second half pressure count in the 55th minute, when full-back Elliott Hewitt was allowed too much space on the right side of the box, and cut back a cross for Stead to side-foot home from seven yards.

Lewis Hawkins forced an excellent save from Loach after 69 minutes when the midfielder came close to another spectacular long-range strike.

From the resulting corner Pools almost drew level when the ball dropped to Jones but the defender saw his shot cleared off the line by Noble.

Luke James had a late shot saved by Loach as Hartlepool failed to find an equaliser.

Notts County: Loach, Hewitt, Hollis, Edwards, Audel, Atkinson, Noble (Amevor 90), Aborah, Valencic (Campbell 71), Stead (Gibson 81), McLeod. Subs not used: Carroll, Murray, Snijders, Sarpong.

Booked: Aborah

Goals: Stead

Pools: Carson, Magnay, Jones, Jackson, Duckworth, Gray (Walker 82), Woods, Featherstone, Hawkins, Oates (Bingham 82), James. Subs not used: Bartlett, Richards, Jones, Smith, Laurent.

Booked: Magnay

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 3597