Victoria Park

Jonathan Woodgate tasted action for the first time this summer, named in the starting line-up.

Former Boro player Jonathan Franks was named in the Pools' starting side managed, of course, by Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett.

There was warm applause for Cooper and Hignett from a large section of Boro fans who watched a lively start to the game.

Pools settled quickly, Anthony Sweeney and Jack Compton linking well down the Pools' left and forcing Jason Steele to turn away at full stretch.

Boro's first effort came from Muzzy Carayol, but he dragged a low shot wide from 25 yards.

It proved an isolated effort as Boro, who passed the ball well enough through midfield, didn't create too much that would cause Scott Flinders concern.

However, in the 23rd minute Grant Leadbitter cracked one from just over 20 yards and the goalkeeper was forced into a full-length save to his right.

In between the two Boro efforts Pools had created an opportunity for Luke James, who brought a smart save from Steele with a close range header.

Leadbitter had found his range and another 20-yard effort brought another decent save from Flinders.

Boro looked more threatening when Marvin Emnes moved from just left of centre to a more advanced position. After combining with Stuart Parnaby and Joszef Varga to set up Lukas Jutkiewicz - who shot at Flinders from 12 yards - the Dutchman was left with the goalkeeper to beat but shot straight at him.

With 39 minutes played, that was Boro's best chance to date.

Carayol darted in from the left but ran out of space before Leadbitter shot just over from 20 yards.

The final chance of the half fell to Pools as the impressive James forced Steele into another save with a decent header.

Half-time: Pools 0 Boro 0

Cooper made three changes during the break and Tony Mowbray just one as Steele was replaced by Jayson Leutwiler.

There was a better tempo to the game from the start of the second half, with Pools arguably looking brighter and Boro were forced to defend for significant spells.

Breaking free, Emnes shot just over from just inside the penalty area, just in from the right, before an angled run down the right was ended by an excellent tackle from Jack Baldwin.

Rhys Williams had to perform something similar on the edge of the D as James threatened at the other end in a game that was increasingly well contested.

On the hour Woodgate was replaced by Christian Burgess.

An incisive manoeuvre from Carayol deep in the Pools' penalty area set up a chance initially for Varga. A slight deflection took it out of his path but set up Ben Gibson, whose close-range effort was deflected over by right-back Neil Austin.

Carayol was proving elusive and after he cut in from the right he forced a fine save from Flinders with a low shot.

Boro were now taking control and won a penalty with 73 minutes played when Emnes was tripped by Antony Sweeney. Lukas Jutkiewicz took the kick but Flinders saved well to his right.

With 15 minutes remaining Steve Howard, last seen by Boro fans scoring for Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of last season, replaced James. His "welcome" from a section of Pools' fans not exactly the warmest.

Jutkiewicz brought another save from Flinders with a low, left-footed shot as the visitors looked to capitalise on possession which was now largely theirs.

Emnes shot from the edge of the box and won a corner; Jutkiewicz shot from a little further out and was just wide. Boro were now creating all the chances and had nothing to show for it.

And that is the way it remained, Boro will nearly all the chances, Flinders with all the answers.

Referee Tony Harrington, Cleveland.


Hartlepool United: Flinders; Austin (Richards 86), Hartley (Holden 46), Walton (Walker 46), Collins, Baldwin, Franks, Sweeney, James (Howard 75), Monkhouse (Poole 46), Compton (Rodney 75). Unused subs: Rafferty (gk);

Boro: Steele (Leutwiler 46); Parnaby, Woodgate (Burgess 60), R Williams, Gibson, Emnes, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Varga, Carayol, Jutkiewicz. Unused subs: Bennett, Reach, Smallwood, Ledesma.

Attendance: 2,307 (1,169 Boro).