REPORT | Hartlepool United 1-0 Wrexham

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Sat 23 Mar 2019

Another afternoon of disappointment on the road for Wrexham, as they fell short to a first half penalty at Victoria Park on the north-east coastline.

There was not a great deal in a closely contested encounter, but the deciding moment came on 25 minutes when Josh Hawkes picked himself off the turf to slot home a penalty that hand more than an element of good fortunate about, as Rob Lainton appeared to have saved it before the ball closed the line.

A header from Akil Wright should have been the leveller in the second half, but Nicky Featherstone saved his team with a timely clearance at the back post.

The game kicked off in lovely spring sunshine under blue skies in the north-east of England, as both sets of supporters were in fine voice – with the host club offering discounted admission as a thank you for the fixture last season which was used to highlight the financial plight the Pools were going through at that time.

On 12 minutes, a little dink ball down the middle almost set up Hartlepool striker Nicke Kabamba on the edge of the Wrexham box, but as he spun to face goal, Lainton was already off his line to claim the ball.

After a fairly quiet opening quarter to the match, the Reds failed to clear the ball from the own area and as Josh Hawkes picked up the loose ball, Pearson swung a leg at the ball and Hawkes was on the ground – with the referee pointing to the spot for a penalty.

The same player dusted himself down to take the kick, with Lainton standing tall the shot went low down the middle and the save seemed to have been made, but the ball somehow spun up and over the keeper’s body to cross the line for a goal on 24 minutes.

Wrexham responded with a series of corners, that had the home defenders scampering around their own box to clear.

An injury to Aaron Cunningham, saw Hartlepool make the first change with Mark Kitching replacing him on the half hour.

On 36 minutes, Luke Young fired in a long-range effort that the United keeper Scott Loach would have only seen late, as it bounced inches wide of his right-hand post.

The visitors were certainly having the upper hand as they pinned Pools back in their own half, but a well marshalled defence was able to keep Wrexham at bay.

With Paul Rutherford on the left and McGlashan on the right, there were a steady succession of balls being played into the home penalty area.

Agustien had been showing up well, as his passes were all finding his new team mates. Then on 43 minutes, he fired in a curling effort from distance that was not far from the top corner of the Hartlepool net as Loach was forced to look on.

Ht 1-0

Seven minutes into the second half and Liam Noble was booked for catching Chris Holroyd late. Agustien took the free kick, which resulted in a Wrexham corner, that the Curaçao international took himself, but again the Pools defence survived the danger.

But as a Wrexham attack broke down on 58 minutes, skipper Pearson was forced to the Hartlepool captain Ryan Donaldson just over the half way line and earn himself a yellow card.

Just after the hour, a change for Wrexham as Stuart Beavon replaced McGlashan.

The Dragons came within and ace of an equaliser on 64 minutes, as Wright’s header from an Agustien corner was cleared off his own line by Nicky Featherstone. Keeper Loach had come for the ball but was nowhere near it and had his midfielder to thank for saving his blushes.

A 70th minute free kick for United, saw first Kabamba and then Peter Kioso go close with headers for the home side.

Before the restart, Agustien was replaced by Anthony Spyrou.

Then three minutes later and Hawkes’ in swinging corner made it to the back post where Kabamba was unmarked, but to far away to make contact with the ball.

At the other end and Wright’s jinking run into the home box saw the Wrexham fans behind that goal claiming for a handball, as the ball bounced about and hit the arm of a defender - before the next attack ended with Wright getting a diving header on target, but saved by Loach.

With seven minutes left, Holroyd chased a high bouncing ball on the edge of the home box and seemed end up as the meat in a sandwich of the keeper and centre half Fraser Kerr – on this occasion the referee saw it as a fair contest, but would VAR have decided differently?

As the 90th minute arrived, Pearson stayed forward and headed down for Holroyd, who passed out to Spyrou on the left and his flick shot definitely hit the arm of a defender, but with no intent apparently, as play was waved on…

In the three added minutes, frustration got the better of Jennings, who bundled over substitute Luke James for a caution.

Hartlepool United: Loach, Kioso, Cunningham (Kitching 29), Kerr, Anderson, Noble (James 76), Featherstone, Donaldson, Hawkes (Bale 85), Molyneux, Kabamba.
Subs: Muir, Holohan.

Wrexham: Lainton, Kennedy, Pearson, Lawlor, Jennings, Wright, Agustien (Spyrou 70), Young, McGlashan (Beavon 59), Rutherford, Holroyd.
Subs: Dibble, Roberts, Deverdics.

Referee: Marc Edwards (Tyneside)
Attendance: 3,888
Away: 427

Bookings -
Hartlepool United:
Noble (52, foul)
Wrexham: Pearson (57, foul), Jennings (90+2, foul)

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