HARTLEPOOL United failed to score for a fifth successive match in League Two and were lucky to escape with a point following a goalless draw at Torquay United.
Colin Cooper’s men remain the only Football League side yet to find the back of the net this season with their drought having extended to seven-and-a-half hours after their South Coast stalemate.
But it could, and should, have been worse, The Gulls squandering a host of opportunities to break the deadlock in both havles.
Torquay should have been in front inside 15 seconds when David Ball escaped in the area before drawing back for Lee Mansell, unmarked just eight yards out.
He connected first time but was denied the early opener by the bravery of Neil Austin, throwing his body on the line to block inside the goalmouth.
The game wasn’t even two minutes old by the time Jordan Chapell had then tested Scott Flinders with a low drill from range and Karl Hawley then headed over at the near post.
Hawley was soon measuring another effort on goal when cutting infield from the left, this time seeing a right-footed swipe drift wide.
Steve Howard left the field for five minutes for treatment on a cut above his eye following a clash with Krystian Pearce, and the Pools man soon sought retribution, catching the home centre-back with a stray elbow just moments after his reintroduction.
Referee Oliver Langford, however, ignored the offence.
But the striker was in the book just moments later following a trip on Pearce, his caution arriving much to the delight of the home crowd.
Derby County loanee Ball was providing the nuisance factor for the hosts in the final third and his wriggle and subsequent curler from 20 yards narrowly evaded the top corner of Scott Flinders’ goal.
Howard failed to emerge for the second half, Luke James his replacement, and again Pools began the period in sluggish fashion, Chapell seeing his close-range blast repelled by Flinders after the keeper had fumbled inside the area.
The South Coast side were in the ascendency and Ball’s low drawback was skied over the crossbar by the fast-arriving Billy Bodin just six yards from goal – it was a real let-off for the visitors.
But they failed to take heed of that warning and Bodin soon saw a 12-yard effort hacked from the line by Austin on 55 minutes.
There was a sight at goal for Pools forward James when he was freed by Brad Walker, but the substitute took too long to size his volley and Martin Rice scampered from his line to block.
Both teams had struggled to produce that moment of true quality in the final third and that was again the case when Ball slammed wide from 12 yards on 70 minutes.
And they could have paid the ultimate price for that profligacy when Walker found himself one-on-one with Rice in the closing stages but the Pools teenager prodded wide.