Aus happy with Rovers return

STAND-IN skipper Neil Austin was more than happy to play through the pain barrier and even put his body on the line at the death to save a point for Hartlepool United at Bristol Rovers last night.

The 27-year-old ignored the lingering soreness of a calf problem which had threatened to keep him out of the trip to the West Country.

Austin was a major doubt for the game, having limped out of Saturday's defeat against Dagenham, but handed boss Mick Wadsworth a major boost by declaring himself fit on Monday.

And you would never have known the Yorkshireman was carrying a knock given his whole-hearted performance at the Memorial Stadium.

Indeed, with just seconds of injury-time remaining, Pirates dangerman Jo Kuffour found space inside the penalty area and looked odds-on to steal an undeserved win for Dave Penney's men.

But Austin had other ideas and threw his frame in the path of the striker's goal-bound strike to prevent a repeat of the late weekend heartache against The Daggers.

And he told SportMail: "You've got to be careful with Jo Kuffour because he doesn't give you a second so I was pleased to get that block in.

"I didn't really think about it and just put myself in the way and got the block in.

"But Armann (Bjornsson) got a couple in as well and I thought we defended well.

"We said before the game that we needed a clean sheet and we can go home on the bus a lot happier than if we'd conceded or been beaten."

He added: "It's encouraging to come down here and go home with a point, especially with a performance like that after three disappointing defeats.

"I would say it's probably one point gained rather than two points dropped and it's a platform to build on again."

Read the full story and match report in Wednesday's Mail ...