RONNIE Moore had to settle for a point in his first game in charge of Hartlepool United after a battling display against Oxford United.
The second biggest crowd of the season was inside Victoria Park as Joe Ironside gave Moore’s Pools a 53rd minute lead with a low finish.
But Danny Hylton popped up to equalise for the U’s in the 65th minute, to leave Pools seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two.
Moore had made four but was soon forced into another after Matty Dolan was injured in the warm-up.
The midfielder looked to have damaged his hamstring as he was helped off the pitch.
His replacement was Nicky Featherstone, who had been dropped to the subs bench. Also starting were Michael Woods, Sidney Schmeltz and Dan Jones, with the youngster partnering Matthew Bates in central defence.
Brad Walker missed out with a slight niggle while Sheffield United striker Joe Ironside made his full debut up front alongside Marlon Harewood.
With a bigger home crowd than usual thanks to cut price tickets the feel-good factor was evident at Victoria Park and Pools started brightly.
They dominated the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t carve out a clear opportunity.
Jones headed wide from close range from a Schmeltz corner, while Harewood made a right hash of an attempted chip from the edge of the area in the 14th minute.
Oxford forced their way back into the match but Pools still had the lions share of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.
Their best chance came in the 31st minute, Woods with a smart volley from the edge of the D. Clarke saved it initially then fumbled before jumping on the ball.
Michael Appleton’s side’s first chance on goal came in the 38th minute, Danny Hylton with a poor header into the gloves of Scott Flinders from close range.
The best chance came in the 43rd minute, Franks played in Harewood on the right-hand side of the area but Clarke was quick off his line to spread himself and make the save.
Woods was then booked for a rugby-style challenge as the half finished goalless.
Half-Time: Pools: 0 Oxford: 0
Pools, who had struggled in the opening stages after the break in recent matches, went 1-0 up in the 53rd minute through IRONSIDE.
Schmeltz with the ball over the top and with the U’s defence caught square, Ironside coolly picked his spot to give Pools the lead.
Five minutes later and Flinders did well to block Hylton from close range. Austin and Bates also helped smother the ball before it was cleared.
The second largest crowd of the season was inside Victoria Park, with a large number of supporters taking advantage of the cut-price ticket offer.
Pools had been nervy since going ahead and Oxford made them pay in the 65th minute through HYLTON.
Wes Burns swept the ball across the box and Hylton just got in front of Bates to fire the ball past Flinders from close range.
Oxford continued to push forward but Pools restricted them to ambitious shots from distance.
Schmeltz and Ironside were subbed by Moore as he looked to engineer a way to win the match, with Jack Compton and Scott Fenwick coming on.
It was a very competitive second-half and Pools almost sneaked it in the 92nd minute.
Franks’ low shot was well struck from distance but Clarke just managed to push the ball around for a corner kick as both sides had to settle for a point.
Full-Time: Pools: 1 Oxford: 1
Pools (4-4-2): Flinders, Austin, Bates, Jones, Holden, Schmeltz (Compton, 74), Woods, Featherstone, Franks, Harewood, Ironside (Fenwick, 79).
Subs Not Used: Maxted (gk), Richards, Lanzoni, Green.
Booked: Woods (45) Harewood (61)
Goal: Ironside (53)
Oxford (4-4-2): Clarke, Riley, Mullins (Dunkley, 31), Wright, Holmes-Dennis, Whing, Rose, Burns, Collins, Hylton, Campbell (Meades, 55).
Subs Not Used: Crocombe (gk), Potter, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Ashby.
Booked: Rose (22), Hylton (38)
Goal: Hylton (65)
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Leicestershire)
Attendance: 4,070 (297 Oxford United)