Football: Pool recovery punishes 10-man Vale.
Port Vale 2
HARTLEPOOL staged a dramatic late revival to earn a win that papered over the cracks caused by some awful defending early in the game.
Two goals against 10 men in the last three minutes turned the game on its head following the worst performance for a long time by Danny Wilson's men in the opening half. "It was close, but we kept battling to the end," said Wilson. "We started very badly, but had the character to come back."
Vale went ahead in the game's first real attack on three minutes. Alan Thompson lost his footing - and the ball - on half-way and Vale's counter-attack punished him as Chris Herd fired home. Vale grabbed a second on 15 minutes with Herd again the scorer. Some horrific defending had dropped Hartlepool into deep trouble, and as they tried to dig their way out of it, they were foiled by Vale keeper Joe Anyon - keeping out Alan Thompson and Richard Barker before blocking bravely at the feet of Antony Sweeney.
But his best came just before half-time when he dived to his left to tip a long-range free-kick from Thompson round the post. Vale defender Krystian Pearce, booked in the first half, was sent off for a second yellow on the hour, and eight minutes later the fightback started as Barker headed in Thompson's chip from close range.
Time appeared to be running out as Pool threw everything forward, until three minutes from the end when Vale failed to clear the latest of many corners and as the ball came back into the box, Antony Sweeney levelled from close range.
As the game entered added time, Thompson's curling corner was headed into the net by Barker for his 16th goal of the season. A memorable end, but few will be able to forget that awful beginning.
HARTLEPOOL: Budtz, Sweeney, Nelson, Antwi (McCunnie 57), Humphreys (Robson 46), Foley, Liddle, Boland (Mackay 65), Thompson, Barker, Porter. Subs Not Used: Elliott, Monkhouse.
Goals: Barker 68, 90 Sweeney 87.
PORT VALE: Anyon, Lowe, Pilkington, Pearce, Eckersley, Herd, Howland, Harsley, Whitaker (Slater 62), Perry, Mikaelsson (Rodgers 62). Subs Not Used: Glover, Cardle, Mulligan.
Sent Off: Pearce (59).
Booked: Pearce, Harsley, Perry, Howland.
Goals: Herd 3, 15.
Attendance: 3,630 Ref: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire).