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Blunt Hartlepool held to a draw at Accrington
Full-time: Accrington 0 Hartlepool 0
A FAILURE to pose a serious threat in front of goal prevented Hartlepool United from making further ground on the League Two play-off zone.
Pools struggled to create chances in the final third at the Store First Stadium as Accrington Stanley threatened to continue their recent resurgence.
But in the end, with Christian Burgess a key component of Pools' steely determination to keep out James Beattie's forwards, Hartlepool could even have pinched the victory themselves.
Hartlepool manager Colin Cooper said: “I'm not disappointed because after the last two away defeats we have had, the challenge was for us to avoid defeat and then keep a clean sheet. We did that and we came away with something.
“I thought as the game went on we could have nicked it. Both teams cancelled out each other.
“In the second half I might be disappointed not to have taken all three points myself, but as will James. Both their two defenders were very solid and my two centre-backs as well. We have to be satisfied to have claimed a point.”
Hartlepool remain five points shy of the top seven, but have stopped the rot after back to back away day defeats to Wycombe and Northampton.
Cooper said: “There was not much happening in the 18 yard boxes. We are still five off the play-offs and my next challenge is to go in to Saturday against Bristol Rovers and be very focused and go again.”
There were also just five points separating the two teams and 12 places last night, 22nd placed Accrington should have presented Hartlepool with a decent opportunity to keep the heat on the play-off places.
In an attempt to deliver, Cooper moved Jonathan Franks in to attack instead of the more towering Marlon Harewood and the move almost brought early rewards.
After Simon Walton had shot over from distance, the first effort on target was a header from Franks which dropped kindly in to the arms of goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
But after that Accrington found greater composure moving forward to trouble the Hartlepool defence. Jack Barmby, Bradley Walker and Sam Collins all picked up first half bookings which showed some of their frustrations.
Having survived scares when Lee Molyneux directed a free-kick narrowly over and seeing a Will Hatfield shot on the turn deflect wide from close-range, though, Hartlepool did start to look more dangerous in the final third.
Yet despite half chances falling inside the area, Bettinelli was not tested enough to suggest there would be an opening goal before the half-time whistle.
After the restart Hartlepool failed to make inroads on the Accrington goal and it was the home side who came closest to scoring.
Hartlepool midfielder Simon Walton goes past Accrington Stanley’s Josh Windass
Josh Windass, the son of former Middlesbrough striker Dean, had a couple of decent efforts from distance drop just wide, while at the other end neither Franks nor James could hold things up effectively.
There was also a couple of low saves for Scott Flinders to make after the introduction of Kal Naismith to the Accrington forward line.
But a near post diving header from Andy Monkhouse for Bettinelli to hold almost put Pools ahead, but had that gone in that would have been fortunate for Hartlepool.
Cooper's decision to introduce James Poole and Harewood in the closing stages could easily have ended up with a late winner.
But, even when centre-back Dean Winnard had to be withdrawn, Hartlepool remained toothless in the penalty area and had to settle for a point.