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17:40 2th April 2011

Report: Town 1 Hartlepool United 1

Matt Ritchie's 66th minute equaliser was not enough for Town as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hartlepool United.

Paul Hart's side were well on top after 'Pools midfielder Gary Liddle saw red in the 55th minute, but they couldn't muster a winner after a late onslaught.

Chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes, but both Jonathan Douglas and Jon-Paul McGovern might have opened the scoring for Town with powerful drives from long range, but both passed narrowly wide of the upright with 'Pools 'keeper Scott Flinders beaten.

Town continued to have marginally the better of what was an uninspiring first half, but were struggling to break down a stubborn Hartlepool defence; Elliot Benyon's wayward 27th minute lob the only real sight of goal the hosts could muster.

The former Torquay man was again involved a six minutes later as Town tested Flinders for the first time, but Jon-Paul McGovern could only poke Benyon's cross into the 'keeper's arms from eight yards out.

Elliot Benyon

But just as Town were beginning to build some momentum, disaster struck, as Phil Smith collected a corner well, but proceeded to roll the ball straight into the path of Pools left-back Evan Horwood, who directed his left-footed shot expertly into the corner of the empty net from 30 yards out.

It was a real sucker punch for Town, who took some time to settle themselves after going behind, and despite Calvin Andrew and Matt Ritchie testing Flinders from long range in the dying moments of the half, the hosts went into the break a goal adrift.

Town started the second half brightly, and might have gone in front on two occasions through Elliot Benyon, as first the striker poked a Paul Caddis cross just wide, before finding himself in space in the box and smashing a first time shot into the face of Scott Flinders.

The match seemingly turned in Town's favour soon after, as 'Pools midfielder Gary Liddle was shown a straight red card after piling in to Caddis on the half way line.

The hosts were inevitably galvanised, and went close again on 56 minutes as Calvin Andrew beat Flinders to a cross into the box, but when the ball dropped to McGovern on the edge of the box, he couldn't keep his volley down and it drifted over the bar.

It looked like being another afternoon of frustration for a period afterwards as Town huffed and puffed with little end product in front of an increasingly impatient home crowd.

However they found themselves back on level terms after 66 minutes, as Paul Caddis fired in a dangerous cross which Matt Ritchie rose brilliantly to bullet into the bottom corner past the helpless Flinders.

Paul Hart threw on Alassane N'Diaye and Mike Grella as Town desperately sought a winner, and the former might have got it on 84 minutes as he drilled a 12-yard volley goalwards, but Horwood was on the line to block it.

Town continued to pile forward with N'Diaye, Andrew and Grella all making their presence felt in attack, but bar a couple of wayward volleys from Jean-Francois and man of the match Ritchie, a winner looked unlikely to materialise.

Despite five minutes of injury time, Town could not come up with a second goal, and had to settle for a point.

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    Data provided by Press Association