SO no FA Cup heroics for Hartlepool United this season, no emulating Lincoln City’s FA Cup feats of 12 months ago.

Now they hope for better fortunes when it comes to following the Imps back into the Football League.

Pools went to Morecambe in fine form, one defeat in 13, against opposition without a goal at home in four games and only one win to their name at the Globe Arena this season.

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It was supposed to be a good chance to show they should be a Football League club. And there was some difference between non-league and Football League, although it wasn’t in Pools’ favour.

Under pressure from the off, they were reliant on Scott Loach to stop them going behind after just 24 seconds.

It was four minutes later when he was beaten for the first time and, by the time the ball bounced into the net off the keeper with two minutes to go Pools were well beaten.

The Shrimps set the tempo from the off, Pools never matched it and were hustled and bustled out of their stride against opposition who chased, harassed and closed down all game.

“It’s a frustrating day,’’ reflected Pools’ boss Craig Harrison. “I think the first goal has killed us and have them an advantage. We then have to take more risks and takes the game management away from us.

“If we come back at 0-0 like at Torquay at half-time last week, I felt if we could have rode the first ten 15 minutes the pressure turns on them.

“We lost the game in the first seven minutes by not dealing with their intensity. We didn’t manage it well. We started the second half well and they managed it well. We didn’t.’’

Pools adopted the same formation which they started at Torquay the week before.

In the first-half at Plainmoor they were all over the place. While it wasn’t quite as bad this time, they still looked uncertain with a 4-1-4-1 set-up.

Luke George played ahead of Nicky Featherstone, with the latter in the front of the back four.

Would Pools be better served with the roles reversed and enforcer George sitting deeper to try and break up play?

The midfield was so congested that Pools never had time to settle and move the ball around. At times when they did have possession they didn’t keep the ball and moved it on too quickly without much thought.

Behind the midfield, and Pools were weak in central defence.

Louis Laing has been playing well of late and looked a dominant centre-half. This week he never settled and always appeared on edge. Alongside him and Liam Donnelly was equally unsecure.

For the first goal, Donnelly pushed out of defence to clatter into Garry Thompson from behind. The home attacker suffered whiplash from Donnelly’s jump, but tellingly the defender was out of position.

He chased back, and when the ball was played into the area Laing’s weak clearance fell for Kevin Ellison to knock home.

When Donnelly stepped forward to good effect, he flew into a tackle to take both man and ball in wiping out Alex Kenyon. It was the sort of proper challenge which, when time correctly like this one, is a thing of beauty.

Pools’ best chance – and home keeper Paddy Roche’s first save – came when Rhys Oates crossed from the left, Jonathan Franks met the ball well and the keeper pushed it over the bar.

It was soon 2-0, another goal of Pools’ own making.

Scott Loach played the ball to Donnelly rather than hitting it long. Donnelly waited for two home players to close him down, rolled it back to under pressure Loach and his clearance wasn’t a clean one.

Oates’ misdirected header went straight to the opposition and midfielder Andrew Fleming drove through from deep to finish.

For the third, another weak Laing clearance only set up Adam Campbell – a one-time Pools loanee from Newcastle United – and his low shot cracked off the post, hit Loach and bounced in.

It wasn’t Pools day. Backed by 854 fans, the travelling support almost made up half the crowd.

Harrison admitted they deserved better. He tweeted as much yesterday and on Saturday admitted:

“The fans were brilliant, top-drawer,’’ he said. “You would think we were winning 3-0. The lads acknowledged that and understand that. The fans were frightening, louder than ever – they saw the players were working hard and putting it in and taking the game to Morecambe.

“It’s just disappointing as I hate conceding goals and losing. It’s the first time we have been beaten by more than two. I hate to see it. The third is against the run of play.’’

He added: “I’m not one to talk about concentrating on the league, I want to look at all games, all competitions and that’s why it’s so disappointing.

“After we conceded it was 50-50 and we had the most possession, but when you are leading you can let the opposition have more possession.

“We started the second half well and we got in some good positions after we conceded the first goal. We started poorly and been punished for it.

“The scoreline flatters them – they deserved their first goal no doubt about it. But apart from that there’s nothing in it. We were the better side footballing wide and possession wise. I’m gutted by it.’’