POOLS IN HOLLAND: Telstar 0 Hartlepool United 0

editorial image

HARTLEPOOL United had back-up goalkeeper Andy Rafferty to thank as they escaped a second defeat on their tour of Holland.

The 25-year-old – again completing the full 90 minutes in place of Scott Flinders – pulled off a string of top-drawer saves after the break as this afternoon’s sun-baked friendly with Telstar ended goalless.

Beaten 3-1 by Almere City on Thursday night, Colin Cooper’s side again struggled to fashion clear-cut openings.

But during a laborious opening period, played out in searing heat, the Dutch second-division outfit were equally lacklustre in the final third.

The closest Pools came was a wild lash from Simon Walton, steaming onto a half-cleared corner, which, in the end, exited the stadium.

At the other end the hosts were not faring much better and Sjaak Lettinga repeated Walton’s trick with a skyward volley from 20 yards.

Pools did survive a penalty shout when Lettinga’s 18-yard blast cannoned off the arm of skipper Tony Sweeney, while Peter Hartley had to be alert to hook from the goalmouth after Terrel Ontdaan had centred.

Trailist Nialle Rodney entered at the break in place of Jonathan Franks, the Dutch PA announcing the arrival of “Rooney”.

But it was the Dutch who begun the second period with greater purpose and only a pair of fine, reflex saves from Rafferty kept the game goalless.

First, a Junior Ebobo pull-back rolled invitingly into the path of Bacuna Johnsen but his first-time drill was flipped over the crossbar by the Pools custodian.

Then, from Gaston Salasiwa’s whipped free-kick, Oliver Rifai flashed a header on goal only for Rafferty to again deny, this time clawing around the upright.

Pools made wholesale changes with summer signing Jack Compton among those introduced 15 minutes from time.

But again they had to call upon the fingertips of Rafferty to preserve parity as he instinctively gloved over the crossbar after Ingmar Meye had slid infield from the right and hammered on goal from 20 yards.

And there was still time for one more super stop as he dived at the feet of Kevin van Essen to block during the close stages.

Pools could, however, have nicked a win in the dying seconds when Sam Collins leapt to connect with a Compton corner only for Lettinga to knee clear from the goal-line.