Kidderminster 1-1 Hartlepool United: John Askey's side frustrated after being held by bottom side Harriers

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Hartlepool United were left frustrated after being held by the National League’s bottom side Kidderminster at Aggborough

John Askey’s side got the perfect start on their travels once more when Tom Crawford took the plaudits for Hartlepool’s opening goal inside the opening 10 minutes on his 100th appearance for the club when his cross was turned into his own net by Reiss McNally.

But Pools were unable to kick on and assert their control in the game as Amari Morgan-Smith levelled the scores from another set piece before half-time.

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Askey’s side created a number of chances after the break but were unable to find an elusive second as they had to settle for a point.

Hartlepool United were held by Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough.Hartlepool United were held by Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough.
Hartlepool United were held by Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough.

After such a roaring success in York on Saturday the big question on all lips associated with Hartlepool was: Could they back it up?

They often question whether teams can do it ‘on a cold Tuesday in Stoke,’ well Pools may have been a little bit further down the road from the Potteries, but the same principles applied in Kidderminster.

Having struggled for form in recent months, the boost given to them by such an impressive performance at York, in front of their biggest away following of the year, must have buoyed Askey’s side as they prepared to face the National League’s bottom club.

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Consistency is key, however, and in trying to find that consistency Askey named an unchanged starting XI at Aggborough, that, despite the return of captain David Ferguson from suspension – a huge vote of confidence for former Celtic man Brody Paterson who kept his place following a strong display in North Yorkshire.

Hartlepool United took the lead against Kidderminster Harriers.Hartlepool United took the lead against Kidderminster Harriers.
Hartlepool United took the lead against Kidderminster Harriers.

Ferguson was joined on the bench by Mitch Hancox, who was ineligible to feature against his parent club at the weekend as Kieran Burton and Chris Wreh dropped out.

The Harriers, on the other hand, made five changes from their side who were narrowly beaten by Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend, the home side the lowest scorers in the division with just 12 goals to their name despite holding a defensive record as strong as league leaders Chesterfield with just 26 against heading into the game.

It suggested Askey’s side may not find it as easy as they did in North Yorkshire and yet, once again, they enjoyed the perfect start when milestone man Crawford took the acclaim for Hartlepool’s opener.

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Pools were able to keep a corner alive through Callum Cooke and Crawford who then found Hastie on the right of the area and followed his pass with the run around the Scotsman who returned the ball to Crawford and his low cross was diverted in at the near post by McNally.

Pools almost forced another when breaking forward with Nicky Featherstone and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe before being crowded out as Askey’s side enjoyed total control in the opening quarter of the game.

But whether there was an element of complacency crept in, Hartlepool suddenly found themselves under a little bit of pressure.

A cheap give away in possession allowed Ryan McLean to win a free kick on the right which former Darlington man Jack Lambert whipped in for McNally who headed over from six yards.

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Crawford then went close to making sure his name was on the scoresheet with a remarkable effort just before the half-hour when latching onto a hopeful ball into the right channel. But with little support around him, Crawford caught sight of goalkeeper Christian Dibble off his line and looped one towards the far corner. Dibble’s confidence that Crawford’s effort would be wayward was somewhat misplaced when the ball eventually dropped out of the chilly night sky to strike the foot of the post – Dibble spared his blushes.

But the home side found just their 13th goal of the season shortly afterwards to level the scores after the busy Lambert forced Joel Dixon into a save low to his right and from the resulting corner picked out Morgan-Smith at the front post who glanced in as Pools conceded yet another goal from a set piece.

It was a goal which left Askey visibly fuming in the technical area but things almost got worse for his side when Lambert threaded a fine ball inside of full-back Paterson for McLean who had time to set himself only for Dixon to save well at his near post as, in the end, it was Hartlepool who were pleased to hear the half-time whistle.

With Askey’s words still ringing in their ears Pools looked to up their tempo after the restart and went close within minutes when Cooke’s angled cross found Crawford who tried to steer a header towards the back post but got a little too much on as his attempt went wide.

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Cooke, fresh from his three assists against York, started getting more involved as he found a clever ball into Paterson on the left who whipped a ball in towards the near post for Dieseruvwe who, like Crawford, got too much on it and nodded wide of the near post.

Next it was Hastie to try his luck as he picked up a ball from Crawford on the right with Kidderminster standing off to invite the Scotsman a strike at goal which needed tipping over by Dibble.

Kidderminster still posed a threat, however, particularly down the right through McLean who got in behind Joe Mattock to set up the chance of the half for the home side when finding Ashley Hemmings free at the back post who brought an excellent save from Dixon.

It was a chance which proved to be a bit of a wake up call for Pools who found another sight of goal as Cooke threaded a ball into Featherstone who fired wide under pressure from Matt Preston.

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Hastie tried his luck again when meeting Cooke’s ball on the angle of the area but the winger’s effort just lacked enough curl to creep back inside the far post.

Askey turned to his bench and brought on captain Ferguson who was immediately involved when his searching cross found Dieseruvwe at the back post with Dibble saving well to his left.

Hartlepool’s talisman then had his best chance of the night to score against the club he spent time on loan with in 2016 when Ferguson met Cooke’s ball on the byline before his low cross looped kindly for Dieseruvwe on the six-yard box but Dibble spread himself well to save.

Askey’s side then almost fell foul to another set piece when goalscorer Morgan-Smith rose to meet a deep free kick on the right only for Dixon to be well placed to saved.

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Hartlepool’s frustration grew at the other end though in the closing stages when Featherstone’s corner was met by Hastie at the near post with his header looping off the angle of post and bar on what turned into a bit of a disappointing evening following the highs of Saturday.

Kidderminster Harriers XI: Dibble, Penny, McNally, Morgan-Smith ©, Hemmings, Lambert (Tollitt ‘70), Preston, Lissimore (Brown ‘90), McLean, Robinson (Richards ‘45), Hobson

Subs: Pearce, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Hartlepool United XI: Dixon, Johnson, Onariase, Mattock, Hastie, Wallace, Featherstone, Paterson (Ferguson ‘62), Crawford (Grey ‘88), Cooke, Dieseruvwe

Subs: Jameson, Hancox, Umerah

Referee: Jamie O’Connor

Attendance: 2,163 (132 Hartlepool)