Sutton 2 Hartlepool 2: Luke James & Mark Kitching rescue unlikely point as Pools come from two down
Hartlepool United rescued an unlikely point from two goals down at promotion hopefuls Sutton United.
Goals from Roarie Deacon and Gime Toure put the home side two goals up at Gander Green Lane before strikes from Mark Kitching and Luke James rescued a share of the spoils.
The manager made three changes to the side beaten last time out by Bromley with Fraser Kerr making his debut, following his arrival from Gateshead in the week.
Mark Kitching and Luke James also returned to the side as Danny Amos, Niko Muir and Peter Kioso (banned) dropped out of the side.
Pools had to weather an early storm as Tom Bolarinwa was set free over the top by Craig Eastmond in a precursor of what was to come but this time keeper Scott Loach was equal to the low effort.
Loach, though, had a moment of madness minutes later as he inexplicably gave away an indirect free-kick from a Liam Noble backpass but a poor effort from Harry Beautyman saved the duo's blushes.
Having got to grips with things defensively Pools started to make an impression in attack. A ten-minute period before the half hour mark saw Pools create FOUR clear cut chances to take the lead, but fail to do so on every occasion.
Myles Anderson first headed off the top of the bar with the goal gaping after Ross Worner made a remarkable stop to deny Nicke Kabamba, then Josh Hawkes flashed across goal with the keeper out of action having seen his first goal-bound effort blocked.
Anderson then saw a header cleared off the line before the home side, slightly against the run of play, edged in front.
As had been the case early on Pools got caught napping as Eastmond played the ball over the top, this time, though, Deacon made no mistake, smashing home from 18 yards giving Loach no chance.
Kabamba was then in action at both ends as he saw his own shot cleared off the line after Noble could not finish at the first attempt then he headed a Toure overhead kick off Pools' line to bring to an end an entertaining half of National League football.
While Pools had their fair share of the play in the opening 45, the second half was a whole different story.
The attacking threat waned and so too did Pools' intensity as Sutton grabbed the bull by the horns, peppering the visiting box from all angles.
Loach has to be at his very best to prevent a second when he heat away a Beautyman volley with his left hand. But that was only delaying the inevitable as Sutton stretched their advantage from the same phase of play.
As the ball broke and was cleared from Loach's save, the home side recycled it and created an opportunity for Toure to turn on the edge of the area, which he did, and stroked past Loach into the top corner.
The game, at this stage, looked dead and buried.
Sometimes in football when the rub of the green is against you, decisions don't go your way. Pools got a stroke of luck to create a lifeline in this one, though, making up for the calls that went against them seven days previous at the Super 6 Stadium.
Kitching, advancing for the first time in the encounter, attempted a cross which looped over the head of Ross Worner and into the far corner. An unlikely goal from an unlikely source.
With the game finely poised Deacon was put clean through and Loach made a point blank stop to deny the striker and then as the ball broke to Eastmond, Anderson came in with a goal-saving challenge.
Almost immediately Pools levelled. A left wing cross from Nicky Featherstone fell kindly for James who stroked home on the volley for 2-2.
Pools were rampant in the closing stages and it was Noble who had the chance to claim all three points but when he looked certain to turn in a Luke Molyneux cross, it was blocked.
And with that Pools had to settle for a point, which despite being two behind, they might feel a little disappointed with.