Coventry City 1 Hartlepool Utd 0

Hartlepool's Evan Horwood (right) mounts a first-half attack at Coventry City today. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool's Evan Horwood (right) mounts a first-half attack at Coventry City today. Picture by FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United boss John Hughes spent the entirety of the second half in the stands following his half-time protest over Coventry City’s winning goal.

The Scot was incensed by the decision to allow Cody McDonald’s 33rd-minute strike.

The City forward had appeared to impede Pools defender Peter Hartley in their tussle for possession before skipping clear on goal and finishing.

Hughes let his feelings be known to the officials during the interval and was duly ordered from the dugout.

But the second period would have made for equally painful viewing for the manager as his side’s barren run in front of goal extended to six hours.

The result leaves Pools six points from safety ahead of Tuesday’s trip to relegation rivals Oldham Athletic.

The visitors had begun brightly enough and were very quickly on the offensive.

Home hearts were in mouths when Jonathan Franks’ dangerous drag towards the near post was turned inches wide by the sliding City defender Cyrus Christie.

From the resulting flag-kick Sam Collins headed over from 12 yards but centre-back partner Hartley should have done better from a similar position when connecting with another Franks corner just moments later, his unmarked effort looping onto the roof of the net.

The closest Coventry came during the opening half hour was a Carl Baker cross which, having caught a breeze, almost crept inside Scott Flinders’ near post, the keeper dashing to scramble around his upright.

And the game’s only goal arrived shortly after the half-hour mark with McDonald slamming low beyond Flinders following the apparent foul on Hartley on the fringe of the area.

The Sky Blues held their lead entering the break and came close to extending their advantage within 10 minutes of the restart.

Franck Moussa wriggled clear inside the penalty area only for his low blast to be palmed to safety by the exposed Flinders.

Gary McSheffrey spurned a glorious chance on 73 minutes when presented with an open goal after Flinders had parried Moussa’s drive, the forward electing to take a touch before being crowded out by recovering Pools jerseys.

Baker left three Pools shirts in wake when dancing into the danger zone in injury-time but he was denied a fine, solo strike by the gloves of Flinders.

One goal was all they needed, however, in what was a largely uninspiring affair.