Swindon Town 1 Hartlepool Utd 1: Monkhouse rescues point for Pools

Hartlepool's James Poole battles for the ball at Swindon.
Hartlepool's James Poole battles for the ball at Swindon.
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FORMER Swindon Town man Andy Monkhouse silenced the County Ground boos as he came from the bench to salvage a draw for Hartlepool United, writes Craig Hope.

The 32-year-old – who left The Robins for Victoria Park in 2007 – poked in from close range 16 minutes from time to make it eight points from 12 on the road for John Hughes’ side.

However, results elsewhere saw them slip 12 points from safety with the visit of relegation rivals Portsmouth to come on Tuesday.

But it was nonetheless a valiant point for the visitors who had goalkeeper Scott Flinders to thank for a treble save shortly before Monkhouse’s leveller.

It was all Swindon during the early exchanges and Gary Roberts, climbing to connect with Raffaele De Vita’s far-post centre, was unlucky to see his header drop on the goal-line before being hacked to safety by Neil Austin.

Andy Williams then out-foxed Peter Hartley inside the penalty area but the finish did not match his smart turn and the former Yeovil Town frontman blazed wide.

The 10-minute mark saw the home support perform a standing tribute to manager Paolo Di Canio, who has threatened to quit the club in the wake of a fallout with the board.

But those fans were very nearly slumped in their seats in despair as Charlie Wyke saw a 20-yard drive flipped around the post by the fingertips of Wes Foderingham.

On 15 minutes, however, the hosts were in front.

Sam Collins misplaced a header upfield and Town broke at pace, Simon Ferry climaxing their swift attack with a side-footer into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Flinders had to be on his guard to prevent The Robins from doubling their lead when De Vita’s deflected shot looped towards the top corner, the goalkeeper scrambling to claw clear.

At the other end Simon Walton did well to steal space for a shot 25 yards out and came within inches of a stunning leveller as his left-footed swipe flew narrowly over the crossbar.

The best move of the first half should have culminated in a goal for marauding full-back Alan McCormack but the Swindon skipper slipped wide having swapped passes with De Vita and stormed into the area.

The hosts went in ahead at the break and that they had not doubled their advantage within five minutes of the restart owed everything to the brilliance of Flinders.

First he spread his frame to block Adam Rooney’s point-blank header before extending a strong arm to repel Roberts’ goal-bound blast.

Still the danger was not clear and he again thwarted Rooney when he headed towards the bottom corner from just six yards out.

The netminder had kept his side in the game and that proved key when, following a spell of pressure, Monkhouse poked home from two yards out after Jon Franks had returned Evan Horwood’s deep centre into the goalmouth.