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Match Reports

Notts 2-2 Hartlepool

Thomas' heroics earn us a point

2 November 2019

Wes Thomas took his tally for the week to four, finding the target twice to earn us a point against Hartlepool.

We had to do it the hard way after a deflected effort from Gavan Holohan gave the visitors an early lead, which Luke James added to with half-time looming.

Thomas chased down a lost cause to reduce the arrears in the dying moments of the first period, before heading home just after the hour to level proceedings.

We probed for a winner but were forced to settle for a point, as our unbeaten run at home was extended to nine matches. 

Neal Ardley made one change to the side that won so impressively at Woking in the week, with Sean Shields returning to the XI after dropping to the bench in Surrey. Regan Booty was the man to make way.

In fine form at the Lane, we started brightly and put Pools under pressure early on, but it was the visitors who claimed the game's first shot on five minutes, when Gus Mafuta picked up possession in space and struck from 25 yards - Sam Slocombe comfortably watched the ball miss the target.

He was picking the ball out of his net only three minutes later, though, and cursing a deflection in the process. A right-wing cross was headed clear but only as far as Holohan, who struck towards goal, and a nick off Ben Turner took it beyond the dive of the keeper.

The centre half had a header held by Ben Killip as he looked to restore parity, before Thomas failed to divert his volley goalwards after stretching to meet McCrory's deep cross.

Pools went close again on 18, when Mafuta's searching ball found James, who did well to take the ball inside Richard Brindley after bringing it down on his chest. From the edge of the box, he struck a low shot, but dragged it wide of Slocombe's right post. 

Chances were hard to come by for either team, and the next opening of note wasn't until the 36th minute, when Nicke Kabamba met Peter Kioso's dangerous cross from the right. The visiting striker got his header all wrong, though.

Pools were looking threatening and there was pinball in our area as the interval approached, with Rose and Thomas both making important interventions before Enzio Boldewijn was booked for a foul midway through our half as the visitors looked to launch another wave of attack. 

But Hartlepool were two to the good with 42 on the clock, when Kabamba rolled a great pass through for James, who checked inside Turner and curled past Slocombe.

We looked set to need a big turnaround in the second period if we were to take anything from the game, but Thomas got it underway before the half-time whistle was blown.

McCrory sent a deep pass into the channel on 44 minutes and the striker beat Fraser Kerr and the onrushing Killip to the ball, getting just enough on it with his toe to send it trickling over the line. 

That was to be the last action of the half and, although Thomas' goal helped matters, there was still plenty of work to do, and Ardley responded by sending Booty on for Shields at the break.

We were attacking the Air-IT Kop in the second period and swiftly won a corner which got supporters off their seats, but it came to nothing.

Pools went close to restoring their two-goal cushion on 52 minutes, when Mitch Rose cheaply conceded possession inside our half and the ball was worked to James, who looked to curl beyond Slocombe again, but this time his effort beat the post.

The keeper was called into action with 57 played, when, shortly after Kerr had been booked for manhandling Kyle Wootton, Kioso drove into space down our left-hand side and shot from inside the area. Slocombe made a great stop at his near post to turn the ball behind.

Having ridden our luck to an extent, moments later we were level. Good play down the left gave McCrory space to cross but an important intervention got the ball clear. It was worked to Booty, though, and he drove towards the byline before standing a delivery up which that man Thomas met in front of Killip to nod home his second of the afternoon. 

The mood around Meadow Lane understandably lifted, and the same pairing almost combined again moments later, but this time the substitute's low ball was cut out as he looked to tee up the striker. 

We seemed to have the momentum and, just after Pools substitute Niko Muir had struck a weak shot straight at Slocombe, Rose's eyes lit up when he found space 25 yards from goal. He struck the shot fiercely, but a vital touch from a defender carried it over the bar. Turner met the resultant corner at the back post but his header went straight at Killip.

We were building up a head of steam and, moments later, Wootton won a free-kick just outside the area, which Booty fancied hitting. A Pools man was in the way, however, and the ball went behind.

Shouts for handball from the corner were waved away, as were stronger claims when Wootton hit the deck after beautifully controlling a pass from Michael Doyle inside the area. 

Thomas had a half-chance for his hat-trick on 84 minutes, when Brindley met a deep cross from the left on the opposite flank and drove the ball back across the box. The striker couldn't take the pace off the delivery, though, and his effort sailed over.

The two-goal man made way for Kristian Dennis on 88 and the substitute was instantly involved. A rapid counter-attack led to Boldewijn cutting inside his man on the right flank before shooting and Killip could only parry. Both Dennis and strike partner Wootton looked to snap up the rebound but the flag was raised.

As four minutes were added on for stoppages, two Pools subtitutes combined as Jason Kennedy drove a cross into Muir, but his improvised effort was easily saved by Slocombe, before Wootton's stooping header went just wide following Brindley's delivery. 

That was to be the last chance of the afternoon as we were denied a sixth straight home win, but our unbeaten run at Meadow Lane continues.


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