Hartlepool Utd 1 Brentford: Pools dent Bees’ promotion dream

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HARTLEPOOL United dented the promotion hopes of visiting Brentford with a battling score draw.

Pools impressed in spells in the first half in front of the Sky cameras with some neat inter-play and will have perhaps felt a little bit hard done-by to go in level.

The best the home side could muster was an off-target free kick and a couple of dangerous crosses in the second half but it was enough for a 1-1 draw with automatic promotion chasing Brentford who finished the day two points behind second place.

Pools very nearly gifted Brentford a dream start when Bradley Wright-Phillips picked up a loose ball in the first minute and was allowed to dart towards the box. Fortunately his effort ballooned over the bar.

Luke James, his high confidence plain to see, was a constant thorn in the Brentford back line in the first half and he started a move involving Monkhouse and Baldwin finishing with a Franks shot being deflected wide midway through the first half.

Less than five minutes later and Pools were ahead. Jack Baldwin’s goalbound shot was cleared off the line but James was on hand to pick up the ball, compose himself before lashing home.

The bright and impressive attacker was at it again in the 35th minute. A Bradley Wright-Phillips shot was charged down in the area and a quick break-away led to James breathing down on the Brentford defence. He was hauled down on the edge of the area by Brentford skipper Kevin O’Connor who received a yellow card for his troubles but the Humphreys free-kick was charged down.

After the impressive opening 40 minutes, Pools will have been disappointed to go in level and they did despite the best efforts of flawless stopper Scott Flinders.

He pulled off a top-class point-blank save from Jonathan Douglas’ headed effort but Pools couldn’t clear and Marcolla Trotta’s left foot strike levelled for the visitors.

HT Pools 1-1 Brentford.

In a scrappy start to the second half, the majority of play saw the ball bobbling around in the middle of the park.

The only opening came in the 53rd minute for Brentford when midfield schemer Douglas played in the goalscorer Trotta but he shot high and wide.

Pools didn’t get going at all in the second half and the visitors started to crank up the pressure a little with 20 to play. A Jake Bidwell header was well stopped yards from the line by a combination of Neil Austin and Scott Flinders.

It took until the 72nd-minute mark for Pools to have a shot on goal in the second half - and it wasn’t on target. A Neil Austin free-kick floated over after Humphreys was adjudged to have been bundled over.

Moments later Brentford substitute Tom Adeymi had half-a-chance when he found himself free inside the Pools box but he rushed his shot and Flinders gathered it comfortably at the front post.

Humphreys was replaced by Greg Rutherford and the home side looked threatening for the first time in the second half 10 minutes from the end. Jonathan Franks whistled a ball across the box which was headed clear only for the flanker come forward to pick it up again and deliver a teasing cross in front of goal. Unfortunately nobody was on the receiving end.

Five minutes later Franks was replaced by Evan Horwood.

Adeyemi’s probing runs caused the Pools backline problems again four minutes from the end. He charged into the area and made a shooting opening for himself but his effort was deflected wide.

FT Pools 1-1 Brentford.