Hartlepool United take away point from Stanley

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HARTLEPOOL United played out a goalless draw at Accrington Stanley to remain five points off the Sky Bet League Two play-off places.

While there was plenty of commitment on show it was lacking in quality and results elsewhere meant Pools stay in 10th place, three places outside the play-off zone.

It was a frantic first opening 45 minutes but neither side did enough to take the lead at the break, with several shots wide or high over the bar.

Accrington had the better of the second half with Pools keeper Scott Flinders forced into making a couple of saves but in the end the draw was a fair result.

The home side stormed upfield and won a corner after just 30 seconds but James Gray failed to take advantage of the resulting set-piece.

Pools hit back well, with Luke James being direct and purposeful – winning two corners in the opening ten minutes with two clever pieces of play.

Holding midfielder Simon Walton was also in the action, shooting over the bar twice from the edge of the area within the first 15 minutest.

The first clear chance of the match came for Pools with Darren Holden’s long throw headed on by Andy Monkhouse towards Jonathan Franks, but his tame header was easily held by Marcus Bettinelli.

Accrington started building a sustained period of pressure and Will Hatfield forced a close-range save from Flinders.

Franks then combined well with Monkhouse down the left-flank but the former Middlesbrough forward’s shot was defected wide of the post by Jack Barmby.

Accrington had the better of the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Laurence Wilson hitting the top right hand corner of Flinders’ crossbar with a misplaced cross.

On-loan Boro defender Christian Burgess almost nodded Pools into the lead but failed to get a strong enough connection with Walton’s free-kick.

Pools had again started the second half slowly, similar to the weekend defeat at Wycombe Wanderers, with the team struggling to get forward.

Adam Buxton screwed a shot from distance just wide in the 70th minute.

Pools’ best chance of the second half came in the 76th minute. James wriggled free down the left wing before cutting the ball back across to Monkhouse, but his diving header again did not have enough power on it to trouble the home keeper.

Accrington Stanley: Bettinelli, Buxton, Aldred, Winnard (Atkinson 90), Wilson, Hatfield, Joyce, Windass, Molyneux, Webber (Naismith 70), Gray (Odejayi 81). Subs Not Used: Clark, Mingoia, Dawber, Bowerman. Booked: Naismith.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden, Walker, Walton, Franks (Poole 81), Barmby (Sweeney 86), Monkhouse, James (Harewood 88). Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Compton, Rodney, Hawkins. Booked: Barmby, Walker, Collins.

Att: 1,196 Ref: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).