Exeter City and their 127 diehard fans endured an away trip to forget at Victoria Park this afternoon as the Grecians were beaten for the fourth time this season.
They got off to the worst possible start when Gary Liddle fired a looe ball past Lenny Pidgeley on the four minute mark&nbsp;after Antony Sweeney's effort rebounded off the woodwork.
Paul Tisdale's side created very little going forward despite having plenty of possession, especially in the second half, and as they pushed for a late equaliser the home side countered and Nathan Luscombe curled the ball home with just seconds to go.
Chris Shephard was recalled to the City line-up in place of fellow youth product Tom Nichols while Pidgeley's heroics in midweek meant the former Chelsea keeper got the nod over Artur Krysiak in the City goal. And the 27-year-old was busy during a frantic opening five minutes.
With just two minutes on the clock veteran Ritchie Humphreys' long throw was flicked on and Adam Boyd tried an ambitious scissor kick with his back to goal but his effort cleared the crossbar.
The Grecians lined up with Dan Nardiello partnering Rowan Vine upfront and after the latter was tripped David Noble sent his free-kick straight into the hands of Scott Flinders.
Pidgeley was then called upon to make a string of fine saves but at the fourth attempt the Hartlepool attack found a way past City's number 40 to open the scoring after a spot of penalty area pinball. After former Newcastle man Nobby Solano sent a classy ball forward, Sweeney fired a shot that was kept out by the post. Then Pidgeley saved Sweeney's header and then pulled off a fine near-post stop to deny Callum Nish before Liddle eventually found a way past him from close range.
City responded to that early set-back with another Noble set-piece that deflected off the Hartlepool wall and away from danger and Shephard tried his luck from long range but saw his effort fly just wide.
Humphreys and Sweeney both had half-chances for the home side before a real chance for the Grecians on 16 minutes. Pidgeley's booming kick was fed into the path of strike partner Vine by Nardiello and his strike was kept out by the fingertips of Flinders.
Shortly after Peter Hartley's header landed on the top of the net after City gave him space and time after he was found by Humphreys.
After the flurry of early activity, the goalscoring opportunities began to dry up. The only real chances of the first half fell to Shephard who had an effort deflected wide and to Hartlepool's summer signing Solano who crashed a shot off the inside of the post after being fed out wide by Sweeney.
And the Perusvian capped 96 times by his country had the first chance of the second half at Victoria Park with a long range effort that deflected over Pidgeley's crossbar.
The Grecians who had made the long trek north were up in arms shortly afterwards when Scott Golbourne's ball seemed to hit a hand inside the Hartlepool box but referee Scott Mathieson was having none of it.
Without many of their strikers though injury the Grecians have struggled for goals this season and in a bid to find just their fourth league goal of the season Tisdale threw Richard Logan into the action for Richard Duffy. Shortly afterwards another forward was introduced in Tom Nichols.
After failing to create any real chances City were beginning to threaten more and they carved out a rare opportunity as we approached the last ten minutes when Nardiello's effort was palmed behind by Flinders.
But that was the best Exeter could produce and, despite seeing plenty of the ball, there were no genuine chances of a late leveler.
Any hopes City may have had of earning a point were extinguished with just a minute left on the clock. They'd had a warning just before when Hartlepool attacked and winger Andy Monkhouse drove an effort over the bar from 25 yards. And Monkhouse was involved in the second as he fed Luscombe who curled a fine effort into the corner from 12 yards to complete a miserable afternoon for those in red and white.
Exeter City Lined Up: Pidgeley, Tully, Duffy, (Logan 54) Coles, Golbourne, Dunne, Archibald-Henville, Noble, Shephard, (Jones 76) Nardiello, Vine (Nichols 66)