HARTLEPOOL UNITED fell to a fourth-successive defeat – their worst run of the season.
Pools went down 1-0 at Portsmouth, after conceding the only goal after just a minute and 23 seconds.
Two minutes later Andy Rafferty saved a penalty to ensure they only trailed by one.
But they failed to offer much going forward and now sit only six points ahead of the bottom two. With six games to go, they aren’t in relegation danger, but are in need of one more win to ease any nerves.
Ricky Holmes sent over a deep free-kick, defender Jack Whatmough headed at goal, Raffety saved and defender Adam Webster tapped in on the line.
Rafferty, on only his second Football League start with Scott Flinders ruled out with a migrane, didn’t have time to recover.
Christian Burgess went to ground in the area to foul Holmes. Referee Andy D’Urso pointed to the spot. Ryan Taylor struck his penalty well and Rafferty got down low to his bottom right corner to keep it out.
Stunned by the start, Pools never got going in the first-half. Their only chance came when Jack Barmby flashed a shot wide from the edge of the area.
In the second half, Rafferty’s handling was safe, and Pools did improve overall.
Chances on goal, however, were rare. Luke James got in behind the defence and his low shot was saved by Trevor Carson, while, in injury time, Carson backpedalled to keep out a wayward header from team-mate Bondz N’Gala.
Overall, however, it was very poor from Pools.
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