Luck’s out for Hartlepool United’s Ryan Noble

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RYAN Noble would have happily swapped his midweek double for Sunderland’s reserves for a match-winning brace at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.

It was in front of Pools boss Neale Cooper on Thursday that the 20-year-old produced two cool finishes to see home a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.

Within 24 hours, Cooper had made his move, re-signing Noble on a one-month loan deal.

But the striker’s killer touch evaded him at Gresty Road as, with the score at 1-1, he spurned a pair of one-on-one situations.

“I had a couple of good chances and I should have put them away,” Noble said.

“I got a couple of goals against Middlesbrough, but I’d rather have scored them on Saturday. It’s so annoying – those normally go in, but it wasn’t my day.

“If I put those away and we win 2-1 or 3-1 and they don’t come back from it.”

He went on: “For the first one, I saw the defender come towards me, so I stepped past him and I’m in on goal. I’ve blasted it to the bottom corner and thought I’d scored, but it’s hit the keeper’s shoulder or arm and gone over.

“He’s not even tried to save it. He’s just been hit by it.

“The second one, I’ve gone for the bottom corner again and it’s going there, but the lad has kicked it off the line. So it stayed 1-1 and then they put a ball over into the area and we don’t defend it well enough and they’re ahead – it was frustrating.”

Pools started well with Noble at last injecting some energy and vigour into the offensive unit.

It took nine minutes to locate the breakthrough goal. Evan Horwood – on just 60 seconds earlier for the injured Andy Monkhouse – latching on to Tony Sweeney’s headed flick before poking beyond Alan Martin in the home goal.

Keeper Scott Flinders was called into action on three occasions before the hosts had their chance for parity from the penalty spot, Peter Hartley having used his arm, albeit unintentionally, to block Ajay Leitch Smith’s blast on goal.

Paul Pogba stepped up and duly blazed woefully over the crossbar, somehow contriving to smash the roof of the stand.

But by the interval Crewe were back on terms, Chuks Aneke sweeping into the top corner from 20 yards.

Noble should have restored the visiting advantage after the break when presented with two one-on-one situations inside the area but both went begging.

They proved costly as the hosts won the game when Luke Murphy’s free-kick was unopposed all the way to the far post, where Mark Ellis turned home.

H Craig Lynch returned to Sunderland today – to make room for Noble in the Pools squad.

Pools boss Neale Cooper would have preferred to keep the 20-year-old winger on the books at Victoria Park, but financial restrictions meant he had to decide between Lynch and Noble.

And, with Pools having struggled for goals and a cutting edge in the final third this season, it was striker Noble who got the nod.

Crewe: Martin, Mellor, Ellis, Davis, Tootle, Aneke (Daniels 80), Murphy, Bond, Pogba, Leitch-Smith (Dugdale 90), Max Clayton (Turton 89). Subs Not Used: Garratt, Robertson, Ray, Waters. Goals: Aneke 45, Ellis 70.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Hartley, Holden, Franks (Lynch 80), Sweeney, Murray, Monkhouse (Horwood 8), Noble (Poole 80), Howard. Subs Not Used: McHugh, Humphreys, Collins, James. Booked: Murray, Hartley. Goals: Horwood 9.

Att: 4,375 Ref: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).