Hartlepool started the match the better side and played some neat football but did not threaten to any great extent. The first moment of note was Hartlepool's Tinkler being booked for a two footed dive-in on Stock. His disbelief at the decision was disappointing but he likes to be known as a hard man.
Broadhurst then produced a great tackle to prevent an onrushing forward breaking clear. However, soon after this we were one down. Eddie lost his man, Westwood, from a Hartlepool corner and he headed into the top right corner despite a massive dive from Mossie in an attempt to save it.
This very briefly saw a rise in tempo from the home side but just as quickly we began to stamp a bit of authority onto the game. Stock and Spicer wrestled control of central midfield and Wade began to worry his full back. One of his crosses produced the equaliser. It was met by O'Connor whose effort was blocked and the ball fell to the unmarked Deadly Derek who slotted home from 7 yards.
We now virtually controlled the match and created some good chances. Broadhurst had a flick from a corner cleared off the line, Connell shot over and then headed wide. It was not all one way and Hartlepool missed a good chance when a striker rolled the ball wide after Moss could only palm another effort towards him.
Just before half-time we went ahead when another Elliott cross was met by Stock whose header was parried by the 'keeper but adjudged over the line before the nearest defender could hoof it out.
2-1 up at half-time, not deservedly so and also a rare headed goal by Stock!
We started the second half in determined style looking to hold onto the lead but only too willing to get forward for a third. A great passing move saw Wade shoot wide whilst Spicer dallied on a shot allowing a defender to block the attempt.
Our attacks began to decrease as Hartlepool went looking for at least a point. Connell was replaced by Dani and then O'Connor by Browning. 'Pool went three at the back in an all-out attempt to get something out of the game and this, of course, allowed more space for our now sporadic break-outs. Wade had a shot deflected onto a post after a good run. Another Hartlepool player was booked for a further two footed lunge at Stock followed by more protestations of surprise.
Maher replaced Holmes as a further Hartlepool striker was brought on as a sub. At the time I was disappointed by this as it changed our shape, which was working well, but with hindsight can understand why this was done as without it there would have been four v four along our backline. The inevitable happened of course and Nelson the defender thrown forward leapt highest and placed a header over Moss who managed to get a hand to it. Two all with a few moments to go.
There now followed a few minutes of utter mayhem and madness. Mr Boyeson, who until now had refereed the match very well, completely lost the plot. Eddie was beaten by the sub striker Appleby and tugged him back in the box just as he was shooting. The ball went in but the ref had already blown for a penalty so the goal was disallowed. He then merely booked Eddie when, in the circumstances, a sending off was warranted. The penalty was saved by Moss and so Mr Boyeson now had the home crowd on his back.
The ball went up the other end and Dani burst through as Westwood dived in and Dani went down. I did not see much in it but after the match Westwood had the grace to tell Fletch that he feared being sent off as he had flicked a leg up to bring Dani down. The ref waved play on and then awarded Hartlepool a very dubious free-kick just outside our box in what appeared to be an attempt to pay 'Pool back. A clever free-kick past the wall enabled Appleby to flick home.
Heartbreak time and the away fans were now on the ref's back as well. An escort was required to allow Mr Boyeson to leave the pitch when the final whistle was blown immediately after the restart.
Overall, this was the correct result but I for one would have preferred to have been beaten by the disallowed goal rather than have to go through the contrived ending. Refs trying to make up for their mistakes is never a good thing. and they should just get on with things as normal. We did not deserve to lose the match and a draw may have flattered us slightly but it was a battling display that deserved something.
A consoling pint was required on the way back to the station to make the journey home bearable.
Broadhurst for a commanding display which included a number of well timed tackles and brave blocks.
AFCB: Moss, Young, Broadhurst, Howe, Cranie, Elliott, Stock, Spicer, O'Connor, Connell, Holmes
Subs: Rodrigues for Connell, Browning for O'Connor and Maher for Holmes.
Unused: Stewart, Andrade
Phil Nesbitt, Solihull