Accrington Stanley were unable to find a breakthrough against a stubborn Hartlepool United side in a goalless draw at the Store First Stadium.

Will Hatfield came closest for the Reds on a night where defences were on top as Marcus Bettinelli had the quietest game of his loan spell so far in goal.

There was one enforced change for James Beattie; Peter Murphy’s suspension gave Josh Windass a chance to shine in central midfield with Luke Clark taking a place on the bench.

Piero Mingoia had recovered from his dislocated shoulder to be recalled to the bench whilst Wigan loanee Adam Buxton continued at right back as Nicky Hunt served the final match of his two-game ban for picking up 10 yellow cards.

The Reds started well and put early pressure onto the visitors by winning a succession of corners but James Gray’s effort was sliced over the bar.

Experienced Pools midfielder Simon Walton tried his luck from range twice but only succeeded in finding his own fans with his efforts as neither side looked like creating a clear-cut opportunity.

Jack Barmby, Bradley Walker and Sam Collins all went into the referee’s book for breaking up Stanley counter-attacks with Gray looking particularly lively with his energetic approach to the game.

From a free-kick, Saturday’s hat-trick hero Lee Molyneux whipped his left foot around the ball but there was too much power on his shot and it flew over the top of Scott Flinders’ crossbar.

Stanley were building pressure and looking likely to make the breakthrough with Will Hatfield’s powerful effort from close-range deflected into the side-netting by Christian Burgess. That was the closest either side came to scoring in a goalless first half, as neither were able to find their cutting-edge.

It seemed as though it would take a special strike to break the deadlock and Windass came close to doing so as he slalomed past a couple of Hartlepool defender before unleashing a fine effort that curled just wide of the post.

Laurence Wilson almost opened the scoring in bizarre circumstances as his cross from wide on the left hit the top of the crossbar and bounced behind for a goal kick.

It was then the turn of Will Hatfield to go close as he touched Molyneux’s cross towards goal but it rolled slowly past the upright. Windass went close again when he took aim from 25 yards but, as with the other efforts, they were wide of the target.

In truth, the visitors barely threatened in the second period with Marcus Bettinelli untroubled throughout. Marlon Harewood tried to win the game in injury time for the visitors but he found the colossus Tom Aldred in the way of his shot as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Stanley: Bettinelli; Buxton, Aldred, Winnard (Atkinson 90), Wilson; Hatfield, Joyce, Windass, Molyneux; Gray (Odejayi 81), Webber (Naismith 70).
Substitutes: Dawber, Clark, Mingoia, Bowerman.