Sheffield Utd 0 Hartlepool Utd 1: Blades exit and add to weight on Weir’s shoulders

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manager David Weir faced a gauntlet of abuse as Sheffield United crashed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against League Two side Hartlepool.

James Poole’s first-half volley proved decisive, meaning the Blades have still to win inside 90 minutes since the opening day of the season.

The majority of the 4,189 crowd stayed behind to vent their anger at Weir on the final whistle, with pressure mounting for the axe to fall on the rookie manager.

The Blades – showing five changes from the side which stopped their six-match losing streak in League One with a 1-1 draw against Crawley Town last Friday – nearly went behind in the 12th minute when Luke James scampered clear with only goalkeeper Mark Howard to beat, but dragged his shot wide.

It was a warning shot from Hartlepool, who thrashed Bradford City 5-0 in the previous round. For the Blades, the combination of Marlon King and Lyle Taylor showed promise, the latter just failing to latch on to a sumptuous reverse pass from his veteran strike partner.

Yet there was little goalmouth action for the Blades and the crowd was finally woken from its slumber when Hartlepool took a shock lead in the 38th minute.

Darren Holden’s long throw was flicked on by Andy Monkhouse and Poole volleyed in.

It took until first-half stoppage time for the Blades to test Scott Flinders when Michael Doyle fired in a 20-yard effort which the goalkeeper saved low to his right.

Jose Baxter – who nearly caught out Flinders with a swirling mis-hit cross – picked out substitute Joe Ironside, but the young striker was crowded out at the far post.

An over-lapping run from Darryl Westlake ended with a cross which caused a goalmouth scramble. United could not force the ball home and when the ball came out to Baxter his fierce drive was blocked by a melee of bodies.

King’s 20-yard shot in the 81st minute was held by Flinders, who also denied substitute Ryan Hall from a similar distance.

Hall drilled a long-range effort wide, Ironside poked the ball the wrong side of a post from a Blades corner, and Neill Collins headed straight at Flinders.

Weir watched his players all leave the pitch before turning to the tunnel where he was greeted by a chorus of boos.

Sheffield United: Howard, Westlake, Maguire, Collins, Lappin, Doyle, Coady, Murphy (Hall 56), Baxter, Taylor (Ironside 56), King. Unused substitutes: Hill, McGinn, Willis.

Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Walton, Poole, Monkhouse (Richards 82), Compton (Franks 78), Duckworth, Holden, James (Rodney 84), Burgess, Walker. Unused substitutes: Rafferty, Sweeney.

Referee: M Russell (Herts).