WREXHAM'S promotion challenge took a dent as the Reds lost 1-0 against Hartlepool United at Victoria Park.

Bryan Hughes' side went into the game sitting third in the National League following last week's 1-0 win against lowly Maidstone United but Wrexham were unable to build on it.

It means Wrexham have lost three times in their last four outings and only have six games remaining in the quest for a top seven finish.

The starting line-up showed two changes from the side that beat Maidstone, with Hughes switching back to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

New signing Kemy Agustien came into the midfield in place of Nicky Deverdics, and Jermaine McGlason took over on the left wing from Ben Tollitt who has returned to Tranmere following a successful three month loan spell at The Racecourse.

There was also a place on the substitutes bench for striker Anthony Spyrou, the other player signed by Hughes this week to give the promotion bid a boost.

Pools made a bright start and Nicke Kabamba got the better of his marker but was unable to capitalise on a ball into the area and Luke Molyneux's low drive was saved by Rob Lainton.

Wrexham struggled to impose themselves on the game and the Reds fell behind in the 25th minute after Shaun Pearson brought down Josh Hawkes in the area.

Hawkes' penalty was saved by Lainton but the shot had enough power on it to cross the line.

Luke Molyneaux cleared the bar with another Pools effort while Wrexham finally had an attempt at goal but Luke Young's 25 yard effort fell wide of the target.

Agustien wasn't far away with a long range effort but Wrexham lacked a cutting edge in the final third and it remained 1-0 at the break.

Pools deserved their lead at the interval and Hawkes put a dangerous cross into the box that just needed a touch from a team-mate at the start of the second half.

Pearson was booked for bringing down Ryan Donaldson, the Reds captain taking one for the team with the midfielder running through on goal.

Hughes made his first change in the 61st minute with Stuart Beavon replacing McGlashan and Wrexham soon came close to an equaliser.

Akil Wright's header from Agustien's corner was cleared off the line by Nicky Featherstone and Kieran Kennedy's follow-up was pushed clear by keeper Scott Loach.

Spyrou was sent on for his Wrexham debut in place of Agustien with 20 minutes remaining but Pools almost got a second goal as Hawkes' corner flew across goal and Kabamba just failed to get a touch.

Hawkes fired over from a great position after Kabamba beat Jake Lawlor with another Pools chance.

With time running out, Wrexham had claims for a penalty waved away as Chris Holroyd went down under the challenge of Loach trying to get on the end of Lawlor's long ball.

Spyrou made room for a shot in the area and the Reds claimed that it hit a hand but the penalty wasn't given and Pools held on for the win.

Hartlepool United (4-2-3-1): Loach; Kioso, Cunningham (Kitching 30), Kerr, Anderson; Featherstone, Noble (James 76); Molyneux, Hawkes (Bale 85), Donaldson; Kabamba. Subs not used: Kitching, Muir, Holohan.

Wrexham (4-2-3-1): Lainton; Kennedy, Lawlor, Pearson, Jennings; Young, Agustien (Spyrou 70); McGlashan (Beavon 61), Wright, Rutherford; Holroyd. Subs not Dibble, Roberts, Deverdics.

Referee: Marc Edwards.

Attendance: 3,888 (427 from Wrexham).