FULL-TIME REPORT: Hartlepool United 1 Blyth Spartans 2. Late goal sends Pools crashing out of FA Cup
HARTLEPOOL United have been knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Blyth Spartans after a dramatic night at Victoria Park.
Pools took the lead in the 31st minute through Jonathan Franks’ close-range header but further missed opportunities came back to haunt Paul Murray’s side.
Stephen Turnbull scored a marvellous equaliser in the 56th minute direct from a free-kick before a moment of controversy as Pools were denied what looked like a goal.
Marlon Harewood’s close range effort seemed to have squirmed over the line but it wasn’t given and Blyth made them pay in spectacular fashion.
Jarrett Rivers scored a 90th-minute winner after Blyth broke at pace in the dying moments of the match to cap a memorable night for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side.
Pools made four changes, with Sidney Schmeltz, Dan Jones, Jonathan Franks and Michael Woods all in from the start while left winger Jack Compton was among the subs after making an early return from a knee injury.
It was a frantic and lively start at a bouncing Victoria Park with more than 1,000 Spartans fans having travelled down for the match.
Pools were quickest out of the blocks and Schmeltz was within inches of giving Murray’s side a third minute lead.
He connected well with a pin-point Franks centre from the left-flank but Hartepool-born Blyth keeper Peter Jeffries was at full-stretch to palm the ball away.
Brad Walker then played in Woods in the 11th minute, only for the former Chelsea youth to see his shot go inches wide of the left-hand post.
Franks then failed to connect with a Neil Austin centre, with the goal gaping a minute later, Pools again guilty of not scoring while on top.
Seventh tier Blyth’s first attempt on target came in the 22nd minute through a Daniel Hawkins free-kick after Jarrett Rivers was fouled on the edge of the area by Jones, the attempt safely gathered by Scott Flinders.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 31st minute with Pools scoring the goal their play deserved.
Harewood played in Austin down the right and he crossed to FRANKS who nodded the ball home from two-yards out.
Blyth dangerman Dan Maguire then rasped an effort inches wide of Flinders’ left-hand post before Harewood nodded just wide in the 34th minute after good work from Schmeltz.
Pools went into the break deservedly leading 1-0.
Half-Time: Pools 1 Blyth 0
As the temperature dipped at Victoria Park the atmosphere and intensity of the match cranked up a notch and it wasn’t long before the non-league side equalised.
Eleven minutes into the second-half saw Matthew Bates foul Dan Maguire close to the edge of the D.
Up stepped former Pools academy player Stephen TURNBULL to curl a beautiful free-kick high into the top left-hand corner of Flinders’ net - the Pools stopper had no chance.
There was a moment of controversy in the 65th minute.
Harewood spun and shot from close range and the ball squirmed through Jeffries’ gloves and the ball appeared to cross the line before the keeper gathered it.
But referee Andy Madley on the advice of his assistant waved away the strong appeals despite television replays suggesting it had crossed.
Pools were poor second-half and they were made to pay in the 90th minute of the match.
With Pools on the attack, Austin dallied on the ball at the half-way line on the right flank before eventually conceding possession
Blyth then broke at pace and Jarrett Rivers hit low past Flinders to seal a late and dramatic win for the non-league side.
Bates hit the crossbar with a late strike but it wasn’t enough as Murray’s men crashed out of the cup.
Full-Time: Pools 1 Blyth 2
Hartlepool (4-3-3): Flinders (C), Austin, Bates, Lanzoni, Jones, Featherstone, Woods, Walker, Franks, Harewood, Schmeltz (Compton, 75).
Subs Not Used: Maxted, Holden, Hawkins, Richards, Smith, Campbell.
Goal: Franks (31)
Blyth (4-4-2): Jeffries, Nicholson, Watson, Hutchinson, Buddle, Turnbull, Rivers, Hawkins (Mullen, 66), Maguire, Wade (Richardson, 76), Dale (C) (Wearmouth, 90).
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Parker, Hooks, Harrison.
Goal: Turnbull (56) Rivers (90).
Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 3,735 (Blyth, 1,111)