City slump to another home defeat
St James' Park
Andy Monkhouse`s first-half brace condemned City to a fourth straight home defeat as once again poor defending cost the Grecians dear.
Monkhouse found space in the penalty are from a long throw to drill home his first. He then sprung City`s weak offside trap to slot home his second before the break.
Jamie Cureton`s neat close range volley gave City hope in the second-half but the equaliser proved elusive.
Paul Tisdale made two changes from the draw at Carlisle. James Dunne replaced Liam Sercombe in midfield and Richard Duffy returned to replace to absent Troy Archibald-Henville.
On a bitterly cold afternoon at St James` Park City started brightly, Cureton going close with an early header.
But any early flames were dampened in the 20th minutes when the visitors took the lead. A long throw caused confusion in the City ranks and Monkhouse wriggled clear of several tackles to emphatically drill the ball passed Ben Hamer for the opening goal.
If the defending was poor for the first goal then it was catastrophic for the second Hartlepool goal which arrived just eight minutes later.
A seemingly harmless flick on found its way to the unmarked Monkhouse, for whom it was all too easy to race through and slot home. Questions have to be asked of Billy Jones who was caught out of position pinning all his hopes on an offside flag that never came.
Ryan Harley came close to halving the deficit before half-time but his clever lob cannoned off the post and back into play before being cleared.
City improved after the break with Harley influencing the play with increasing regularity.
When City pulled a goal back it was inevitable that Harley would play a part. He burst down the right flank before producing a cross perfect for Cureton to smash past the keeper and make the score 1-2.
Daniel Nardiello was introduced for Duffy as City switched to a 4-3-3 system in search of further goals but it was Hartlepool who were creating the openings, a desperate goal line clearance kept City in the game as the visitors threatened to add to their goal tally.
Cureton went close late on with a header but Scott Flinders in the Pools` goal was on hand to tip over as City were condemned to another home defeat.
St James` Park used to be something of a fortress but generous defending has seen six teams walk away victorious this season.
If City are to avoid another defeat home defeat on Tuesday night to Tranmere then errors at the back must be eradicated.
City: Hamer, Tully, Duffy (Nardiello), Taylor, Jones (Edwards), Dunne, Noble, Harley, O`Flynn (Logan), Cureton