Roy Kelly’s match analysis: Salford City 1 Hartlepool United 1

Rhys Oates celebrates.
Rhys Oates celebrates.

Every dog, the saying goes, has its day.

Hartlepool United will hope that underdogs Salford City have had theirs.

Twelve months after being humbled by Blyth Spartans, Pools avoided a Friday night BBC2 embarrassment.

Pools are in the hat for Monday’s third-round draw but so too are the team of the ‘class of 92’.

It ended honours even at Moor Lane, the Evo Stik Premier Division side deserving their replay at Victoria Park a week on Tuesday.

Rhys Oates gave Pools a dream start with an eighth-minute penalty but their advantage did not last, Steve O’Halloran equalising.

The Oates goal was a false dawn for Pools who were poor in the first half and, thankfully, they improved in the second period when they squandered the best two chances of the tie.

Sub Rakish Bingham and striker Scott Fenwick, restored to the starting XI, missed with headers which they should have buried with their eyes shut.

If Pools are to end the cup run of the Ammies they must sharpen up in front of goal but, first and foremost, they cannot afford to repeat their insipid opening 45 minutes.

As the noisy Salford fans sang at full-time “we always win away” - Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s team have nine victories from 10 league trips.

This tie is not over though Ronnie Moore will hope his team make their league superiority count.

In mitigation to Pools, the conditions did not help last night, a heavy pitch and howling wind.

The first half was the proverbial blood and snot affair, with only the occasional outbreak of football.

Salford, as you would expect, were early into the tackles and, in one case, very late when Carl Magnay was scythed down late by Scott Burton.

The City midfielder was told off by referee Gavin Ward but that was the limit of it.

Salford were full of intent but the opener came as a result of the first direct run of the tie.

Pools got their first touch in the seventh minute and what a touch.

Oates took possession 10 yards inside the home half and burst forward, leaving the defence trailing.

When in the box, centre-half Andy Dawson made a despairing lunge, only succeeding in bringing down the birthday boy, Mr Ward pointing straight to the spot.

Oates took charge of the ball and beat Jay Lynch with aplomb, the ball going low into the keeper’s right corner.

That should have been the cue for Pools to put their stamp on the tie but they were struggling to get a touch.

Salford won several corners and Chris Lynch saw a header go across the face of Trevor Carson’s goal, with the keeper carefully watching it out for a goal-kick.

It seemed set-pieces/ balls into the box represented Salford’s only real opportunities.

And so it proved. Pools gave away a tame free-kick which Burton played deep. Chris Lynch headed into the danger area and O’Halloran was thee to slide in and beat Carson.

Pools just were not getting a sniff and it took them until the 31st minute to make their second visit to the Ammies box after a nice inter-change with Oates.

It was Oates who looked the only spark for Pools, making anotther threatening burst in the 34th minute.

At least Pools were getting forward, winning a corner or two, and even had a shot though Oates’s attempt was not as good as his eighth-minute effort, this one bobbling harmlessly wide.

Moore brought on Bingham in the 55th minute for the ineffective Mikael Mandron and the forward made an immediate mark.

Nicky Featherstone found him with a superb ball, Bingham’s low cross picking out Oates, who was blocked out before Gray’s shot won a corner.

The flag-kick came to nothing, but at least Pools had played some football.

But they were indebted to some good keeping on the hour, Richie Allen setting up Lewis Hardcastle, Carson getting down well to his right.

At the other end, Jay Lynch saved his side after Gray broke clear but Pools were now firmly in the tie.

And it should have been 2-1 in the 70th minute when Bingham missed the chance of the game.

Gray played a free-kick to the back post which Magnay headed into the six-yard box where Bingham headed wide from just four yards.

There were two scares for Pools who let Salford shoot from range.

Burton’s 30-yarder was well held by Carson in the 71st minute though six minutes later he was forced to tip over a Chris Lynch screamer from even further out.

But there was time for another gilt-edged opening for Pools six minutes from time.

Oates was the architect, delivering a delicious cross for Scott Fenwick, only for the striker to miss-time his diving header.

It was not the end of the drama, James Poole’s 25-yard free-kick flashing wide of Carson’s left stick.

Pools had a last huff and puff when the excellent Featherstone got Gray driving forward, with the midfielder going down in the box.

This time there was no penalty and the clubs must meet again at the Vic a week on Tuesday.

Pools must do better and they must finish better.