The Millers’ final involvement in this year’s second string cup competition, which has also seen them lock horns with Bradford City, Sheffield United and Newcastle United saw them bow out in defeat as Devante Rodney’s goal proved the difference in the North East.
The reserves’ most senior player on a chilly afternoon at the Graham Sports Centre was Darnelle Bailey-King, who was involved in his first match action since sustaining a dislocated shoulder last year, while first year professionals Tom Rose and Laurence Bilboe were amongst the players named in the starting 11.
Kenton Richardson and Rodney tested Bilboe in the Millers’ goal in the early exchanges but it was Akeel Francis who forged the first opportunity for the visitors.
A beautifully weighted ball over the top set Francis on his way behind the Pools’ defence, but his attempted lob failed to hit the target under pressure from the onrushing goalkeeper.
The same Millers’ attacker caused problems again moments later, escaping the attentions of the home defence before prodding an effort over the crossbar.
Bilboe was called into action in the visitors’ goal shortly after when Jake Orrell showed fleet of foot to cut in from the wing before fizzing a shot on goal which was well-saved.
The hosts did eventually beat the Milers’ stopper though just before the interval with Orrell the architect of the move. His drive forward was followed up by a ferocious effort which fell kindly into the path of Rodney, who gratefully tapped home to give his side the advantage.
Half-time | Hartlepool United 1 v 0 Reserves
Inspired by their first half opener, the hosts took the initiative in the second half and created half chances through Josh Hawkes and Connor Smith.
Millers sub Reece McGinley showed good craft to tee up Francis once more, but Ryan Catterick in the Pools’ goal produced a quality save to preserve his side’s advantage.
Hawkes almost had the final say in a fairly uneventful second half right at the end when Bilboe once again came up with the goods to ensure the scoreline remained at 1-0.
Full-time | Hartlepool United 1 v 0 ReservesPools | Catterick, Richards, Martin, Skidmore (Elliott 56), Wise, Pollock, Richardson, Deverdics, Rodney (Smith 46), Hawkes, Orrell.
Unused: Dudzinski, Assenso, Turnbull.
RESERVES | Bilboe, Osborne (Atherton 57), Rose, Bailey, Murr, Bailey-King (McGinley 46), Warren (Wiles 43), Maguire, Kayode, Martin, Francis.
Unused: Fidler, Sterling.