Hartlepool United 3 Newport County 0: Cooper praises his side's experienced spine

Plaudits for Collins and Walton from boss Colin Cooper as Hartlepool United beat Newport

Hartlepool United's manager Colin Cooper
Hartlepool United's manager Colin Cooper

While two of his younger talents scored the goals, Colin Cooper was full of praise for his Hartlepool United elder statesmen.

The two Lukes – James and Williams – scored, sandwiched in between an own goal, to make it three wins from five and put Pool on the brink of the play-off zone.

But while the young talents who have emerged this season have long been praised, the experienced players cannot be overlooked.

Sam Collins, back in the middle of the defence after the sale of Jack Baldwin to Peterborough, helped ensure another shut-out. It’s three successive clean sheets since he made his return.

And ahead of him in midfield, Simon Walton was the midfielder Pool have long been seeking – full of energy, and whole-hearted commitment. Walton created the first two goals and Cooper admitted: “There’s players in the team that either have came under a bit of criticism last year, and I’m asking lots of them and for them to pitch up – and Simon is one of them.

“He is putting everything into the game. It was Simon’s delivery for the first goal, his for the second and some of the blocks and positions he takes up in front of the back four have become important.

“I asked for some more from Andy (Monkhouse) as well and I got it last week at Dagenham and this. I wanted a better shape out of possession this week and his display for the team was very good.

“Simon is tired, Andy is tired. I said if you are 17 or 37, at the end of a game you should be exhausted.

“Andy, Simon and Sam – as elder statesmen to put a shift in like that and give the younger players the chance to flourish is very pleasing.’’ And, while Marlon Harewood hasn’t scored yet since his January signing, he is taking some of the physical workload away from James to allow him more room to wreak havoc.

For the opener, Walton went after a deep cross out wide, put the ball back into the danger zone and James controlled, turned and fired in his 11th of the season. Walton’s corner for the second goal was headed away by defender Harry Worley, but only as far as team-mate Adam Sandell and he diverted the ball back past his own keeper.

With the game won and Pool happily closing it out, Williams, on loan from Middlesbrough, opened up the defenders with a neat nutmeg and exchange of passes with Andy Monkhouse before firing in low.

Tomorrow’s game at Southend sees Pool face the side one place and six points ahead of them in the table.

Cooper added: “Our goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make and it’s credit to everyone around him.

“How you play in your 18-yard box and in the opposition 18-yard box is key. In ours we blocked and headed and stopped and in theirs we were clinical. In League Two and League One it’s about 18-yard boxes – that’s your choice, your philosophy. It’s the most important thing.

“Defend one well, be clinical in the other, and that’s what we have done.’’

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