Swindon Town led against relegation threatened Hartlepool with two minutes of normal time remaining before a valiant display from the hosts saw them turn the tie on its head, scoring twice in the space of six minutes, with a second deep into stoppage time, to claim the victory.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy’s long range effort saw The Robins burst out the traps and into a fourth minute lead, but Connor Jennings looked to have rescued a point for The Pools on 88, before Ollie Finney beat Sol Brynn from distance in the fourth minute of time added on.
Town made the long journey to County Durham with just the one change to their starting eleven, as Tyrese Shade, fresh from his international exploits with St Kitts and Nevis, came in to replace the suspended Jacob Wakeling.
On the bench, there was a place for striker Tomi Adeloye in the absence of Ronan Darcy through injury.
Swindon, looking to turn around a run of five league games without a win, started incredibly brightly as they looked to impose themselves on their struggling counterparts early on, and within four minutes, they had the lead.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy collected the ball from Jonny Williams on the left, and took it upon himself to drill one low from around 25-yards out which beat Jakub Stolarczyk in the Pools goal and nestled into the bottom left hand corner – a superb strike.
Jody Morris’ side weren’t finished there though, and quickly went in search of a second just two minutes later.
A fantastic run from Saidou Khan opened up the Hartlepool midfield as he probed towards goal, and when he was eventually tackled, the ball fell nicely to Hepburn-Murphy again just inside the box on the left, but his strike at goal was well blocked by Jamie Sterry.
Then, from the resulting corner, George McEachran found Jonny Williams at the near post whose toe-poke narrowly missed the left corner of the net with Stolarczyk scrambling across his goal line.
Town were looking good in the opening exchanges, but they still needed to be on their guard for Hartlepool’s aerial threat.
On 13-minutes, a corner swung in from the right found Mohamad Sylla who was able to nod the ball back across goal for fellow defender Daniel Dodds, but under pressure, he put his header wide of the right post.
This proved to be just the tonic the hosts needed to find a way back into the game after their early blow, and created two good chances in the space of a minute as we reached the 19 mark.
First, Josh Umerah was foiled by Sol Brynn’s quick thinking as he was inches away from connecting with the ball having been slotted through, but the tall Town stopper managed to pluck the ball from the air just as he was about to shoot.
Then, just 60-seconds later, a whipped free-kick deep on the right into the Robins area found the head of Connor Jennings, whose effort beat Brynn but not the crossbar – a let off for the visitors.
On 27-minutes, Joe Tomlinson looked to emulate team mate Hepburn-Murphy with a low long range shot, but after beating one man and then another as he dummied to hit one, his strike was too narrow and Stolarczyk gathered easily.
The weather was beginning to impact the game as strong winds and rain lashed across The Suit Stadium pitch, but a good passage of ‘keep ball’ saw Town gradually regaining control of the tie.
On 34-minutes, Hepburn-Murphy had another go at adding to his goal tally, as Remeao Hutton’s whipped cross was chested down into his path by Charlie Austin inside the box, but the goal scorers effort lacked conviction, and with the aid of a deflection, sailed wide of the mark.
With a minute to go until the interval, Tyrese Shade looked to capitalise on a poor punch from home keeper Stolarczyk, but he sent his half-volley high and wide.
The first half finished 1-0 to Town, but with work to do in the second period to see this one over the line.
Three minutes into the restart and it was Town who created the first chance, as Hepburn-Murphy found space to drive into the box and shoot low, but Stolarczyk got down well to save and hold on to it to prevent Austin capitalising.
Moments later, it was down to Jamie Sterry to track back and make a last ditch tackle to prevent the same man breaking free on goal. The game was beginning to open up with subsequent chances at both ends.
First, on 56-minutes, Jakub Stolarczyk made an incredible save to deny Tom Brewitt with a close-range header following a pinpoint free-kick on the left taken by Remeao Hutton.
Then at the other end just two minutes later, Sol Brynn was called upon to deny Sterry from a narrow angle inside the box, before Edon Pruti forced another good stop from the Town keeper at his near post as he looked to turn home a cross from the left.
On 72-minutes, Town thought they’d added that all-important second goal, as Joe Tomlinson split the Pools defence open with a looping ball into the box for Charlie Austin, and although the striker beat the onrushing Stolarczyk to the ball to see it bounce into the unguarded net, the effort was ruled out for offside.
With Dylan Kadji having already come on for Jonny Williams by this stage, Jody Morris looked to change things up further as we reached the final 10 minutes of the tie, with Austin making way for Tomi Adeloye.
Two minutes later, Town should and could probably have scored a second, as Tyrese Shade did well to hold off his marker on the edge of the area before turning and playing Remeao Hutton in on goal on the right side, but he dragged his shot inches wide of the left post with Stolarczyk beaten.
And Town’s misfortune in front of goal was to prove costly, as Hartlepool levelled on 88-minutes.
Good work from Wes McDonald on the left side saw him skip past two challenges before pulling the ball back across goal from the byline, and there was Connor Jennings to casually tap the ball home into the right hand corner.
A huge blow for Swindon, and things were to get worse as we entered the fourth minute of added time, as their hopes of emerging from County Durham with a point were dashed when Ollie Finney given space to drive forward unopposed before unleashing a long range strike at goal, in similar territory to that of Hepburn-Murphy earlier in the match.
His low shot skidded off the surface and had too much pace on it for the diving Sol Brynn, and the Suit Direct Stadium erupted to the sound of the ball rippling the back of the net.
The final whistle brought the curtain down on another hugely disappointing result for Swindon, who are now without a victory in six, but remain eleventh in the table.
Hartlepool United Line-up: 5-3-2
41. Jakub Stolarczyk (GK) – 37. Daniel Dodds, 5. Euan Murray (11. Wesley McDonald 61mins), 2. Jamie Sterry, 3. David Ferguson ©, 15. Edon Pruti, 10. Callum Cooke (38. Oliver Finney 86mins), 20. Mohamad Sylla, 40. Daniel Kemp (22. Tom Crawford 85mins), 36. Connor Jennings, 9. Josh Umerah (19. Jack Hamilton 61mins).
Subs not used: 1. Ben Killip (GK) – 35. Taylor Foran, 8. Nicky Featherstone.
Scorers: Jennings 88, Finney 90+4
Yellow Cards: 5. Murray 55mins, 15. Pruti 76mins, 2. Sterry 78mins, 20. Sylla 64mins.
Red Cards: None
Swindon Town Line-up: 4-3-3
1. Sol Brynn (GK) – 7. Joe Timlinson, 20. Frazer Blake-Tracy, 12. Tom Brewitt, 2. Remeao Hutton, 5. George McEachran, 23. Saidou Khan, 8. Jonny Williams (21. Dylan Kadji 74mins), 19. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, 28. Tyrese Shade, 11. Charlie Austin © (9. Tomi Adeloye 80mins).
Subs not used: 41. Jack Copland (GK) – 22. Marcel Lavinier, 4. Tom Clayton, 16. Jake Cain, 15. Luke Jephcott.
Scorers: Hepburn-Murphy 4
Yellow Cards: 20. Blake-Tracy 52mins, 5. McEachran 90+6mins, 19. Hepburn-Murphy 70mins.
Red Cards: None
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Assistant Referees: Danny Jarvis & Gary Hilton
Fourth Official: Garreth Rhodes
Attendance: 4,815 (433 away fans)