MATCH REPORT: Hartlepool United 0 Scunthorpe United 0

ON THE BALL: Luke Williams goes forward against Scunthorpe. Picture by FRANK REID
ON THE BALL: Luke Williams goes forward against Scunthorpe. Picture by FRANK REID
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HARTLEPOOL United and Scunthorpe United both had to settle for a point after a goalless draw in their Sky Bet League Two match at Victoria Park.

It was an entertaining match with chances for both sides but neither had done enough to take the lead at the half-way stage.

Second-placed Scunthorpe United started the second half brightly and the Pools players had to be alert with Neil Austin and Sam Collins blocking goalbound efforts.

But Pools clawed their way back into the match and Jack Barmby and sub Marlon Harewood both went close in the final stages but the game ended goalless.

Barmby made his full debut as Colin Cooper made two changes to his side that were beaten 2-1 away to AFC Wimbledon in midweek, with the on-loan Manchester United forward and defender Collins coming into the team at Victoria Park.

Harewood dropped down to the bench, while Collins replaced Jack Baldwin, who would have been suspended today anyway before his £500,000 move to Peterborough United on deadline day.

Cooper also welcomed back James Poole into the squad, the forward starting on the bench, after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

Ahead of kick-off, Pools occupied 14th spot in Sky Bet League Two with 34 points, while Scunthorpe were second with 50 points.

It was a tentative start to the match, with chances few and far between in the opening 10 minutes.

Pools keeper Scott Flinders, who was at fault for the Wimbledon equaliser in the week, was indecisive a minute later, not knowing whether to come for the cross or not and in the end Darren Holden had to be alert to hook it away.

The first real opportunity came in the 14th minute, on-loan Middlesbrough forward, Luke Williams, playing just behind Luke James, found himself free in the box.

His clever footwork gave him the opening but his curled right-footed shot from 10-yards was just wide of Sam Slocombe’s left-hand post.

Pools were free-flowing in attack with Williams and Barmby both impressing for Cooper’s side.

Scunthorpe’s Gary McSheffrey hit the crossbar, with a shot from distance in the 22nd minute, Flinders was stranded as it clipped the woodwork.

Then, in the 25th minute, Andy Monkhouse found himself in on goal after the ball bounced off his back and past former Pools loanee Eddie Nolan.

His fiercely-struck shot brought a good save out of Slocombe, who pushed it away from danger.

Pools were awarded a free-kick in the 33rd minute after 19-year-old James was bundled over just outside the penalty area, but the resulting shot from Williams hit the Iron wall.

Barmby entered the referee’s book in the 36th minute for unsporting behaviour.

Brad Walker then shot from distance in the 42nd minute, with Barmby out wide screaming at him for the ball, as his effort sailed a couple of yards wide of the post.

Christian Burgess and then Andy Monkhouse both had efforts within the six-yard box blocked following a Simon Walton corner, a minute before the break.

It was the last attempt of the half as referee Jeremy Simpson blew for half-time with the score goalless.

HALF TIME: Pools 0 Scunthorpe United 0

Neither manager made any changes at the break as the second half got underway at an increasingly chilly Victoria Park.

In the 52nd minute, Scunthorpe’s Sam Winnall had the first effort at goal, a well-struck shot from around 20-yards after a Pools free-kick broke down.

Darren Holden had played the ball short to Walton and the ball eventually made its way to the edge of the area but Walker gave it away and Scunthorpe broke, thankfully for Cooper Winnall’s shot was high and wide.

Then, three minutes later McSheffrey again found himself in a good position 15-yards from goal on the left-hand side of the penalty area, but a flying Neil Austin bravely blocked the ball, resulting in a short stoppage while he received treatment.

The Pools captain was fit enough to carry on and it was his 36-year-old colleague Collins that then had to put his body on the line in the 61st minute, to block another goal-bound shot.

Williams and James continued to work hard up front for Pools but goalscoring chances were proving hard to come by as Pools found themselves pushed deeper into their own half as the game wore on.

Pools then carved out their first clear opening of the second half, Barmby, in the 75th minute, beat two men inside the penalty area, carved out some space but his strong low shot was blocked by Slocombe.

Moments later Williams shot just over the bar from the edge of the penalty area, as Pools finally looked like a threat again.

Captain Austin was eventually forced off in the 77th minute, suffering from an ankle knock after the earlier block. He was replaced by club captain Antony Sweeney.

Cooper made a double substitution in the 81st minute, Harewood and Jack Compton coming on for Barmby and Monkhouse.

It almost paid dividends straight away, Compton’s floated cross to the deep cross narrowly missed by Harewood but James popped up to head wide of the left-hand post.

Experienced striker Harewood then fired a rasping shot from all of 30-yards, which flew just inches wide of the left-hand post and into the Town End.

It was an entertaining end to the game but in the end both sides had to settle for a point.

FULL TIME: Pools 0 Scunthorpe United 0

Hartlepool United (4-4-1-1): Flinders; Austin (C) (Sweeney, 77); Holden; Collins; Burgess; Walton; Walker; Monkhouse (Harewood, 81); Barmby (Compton, 81); Williams; James.

Subs: Rafferty; Hawkins; Rodney; Poole.

Booked: Barmby.

Scunthorpe United (4-4-2): Slocombe (C); McAllister (Collins, 75); Mirfin; Canavan; Hawkridge (Madden, 65); Nolan; Syers; McSheffrey; Winnall; Williams; Hayes (Adelakun, 77).

Subs: Severn; Ribeiro; Sparrow; Boyce.

Booked: McAllister.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson.

Victoria Park, Hartlepool.

Attendance: 3,727 (Scunthorpe United 497)