Brad Walker is Hartlepool Utd’s Ronaldo after saving Burton Albion match

Brad Walker scores his first senior goal,  against Burton Albion

Brad Walker scores his first senior goal, against Burton Albion

0
Have your say

TEN years ago Hartlepool United and Aussie legend Joel Porter scored his first of many special goals for the club in an FA Cup tie against Burton Albion.

And on Saturday, a decade later, history repeated itself as future star Bradley Walker opened his account for the club with a terrific strike against the Brewers to help secure a point for Pools.

Walker has a huge future in the game and thankfully for the Poolie faithful the Billingham-born midfield powerhouse is starting his career at Pools.

In the summer the 17-year-old was promoted from the youth team into the first team set-up and he has gone from strength to strength culminating in two call-ups to England Under 18 training camps, the second one in early January.

2013 has been quite the year for Walker, who signed his first professional contract in the summer, and his final appearance of the year at Victoria Park resulted in him scoring a wonder goal to pull Pools level with Gary Rowett’s side.

Walker stands at 6ft 3in and his physical appearance has been compared to Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and even the former Manchester United great would have been proud of a strike like the teenager’s against Burton.

He had been on the pitch for 180 seconds before unleashing an unstoppable first-time effort with the outside of his right boot from the edge of the D past the helpless Dean Lyness.

The Burton keeper had no chance and it was a gift-wrapped early Christmas present of fantastic technical ability for Pools fans.

Walker started the season in the first team and despite a poor run of results his impressive form before injury curtailed his progress was one of the few highlights.

In his absence, the team then went on a marvellous run which meant it was almost impossible for the teenager to regain his place but in recent matches he has put his name right at the top of the recall list.

He is positive in possession, calm on the ball and technically assured and with a run in the team could prove a real asset this season.

Colin Cooper himself said afterwards he believes Walker is capable of scoring 10 goals a season if he gets enough game time.

With a busy run of three matches in seven days – starting with Chesterfield away on Boxing Day followed by a trip to Morecambe and then the visit of Bury on New Year’s Day – there should be plenty of opportunities to shine.

His 69th minute goal cancelled out Phil Edwards’ 17th-minute opener as once again Pools had to dig deep, show character and resilience to come back from a losing position.

It has happened too many times in recent weeks – Coventry City (twice), Cheltenham Town and now Burton Albion – and while Cooper was pleased to see his side fight back there is a growing frustration about the way Pools are starting matches.

The first half wasn’t good as Burton bossed the early stages and defensively Cooper’s men struggled to cope with the threat of Billy Kee and Adam McGurk, while their midfielders were always looking to counter attack.

The point, which was deserved after a much brighter second half, means Pools remain 14th in Sky Bet League Two, seven points adrift of the play-off positions.

Pools have become difficult to beat but it was the third draw on the bounce and Cooper will be hoping to turn those frustrating draws into wins. And fast, as how this season is going to end could well be decided over the next three games.

Three wins and Pools will be right in the mix, much less and Pools will be losing touch with the top seven and facing a season of mid-table mediocrity.

On Saturday, defender Edwards had given Burton the lead after he was allowed to chest the ball down inside the penalty area before shooting through the legs of Scott Flinders.

The Pools camp felt aggrieved because a clear foul was not given on Luke James in the build up but the players had switched off and Burton took advantage.

The Brewers were proving a real handful for the Pools defence, breaking with pace and intent at every opportunity and McGurk and Matty Palmer both went close before Edwards’ controversial – but well taken – goal.

It took a while to recover.

James Poole went close in the 27th minute but his dipping effort was wide of Lyness’ left-hand post, while Christian Burgess’ powerful header was deflected wide.

Andy Monkhouse thought he’d equalised after connecting with Poole’s delicate lob only to see goalscorer Edwards intercept the ball as it headed towards goal.

The second half started more brightly and James almost equalised three minutes in after a lovely flick from strike partner Poole put him through but his effort was blocked by Lyness.

Kee then should have put Burton 2-0 up but somehow the striker’s effort over the head of the stranded Flinders floated over the bar, when it looked easier to score.

Monkhouse had another effort cleared off the line in the 61st minute. He beat the keeper but Ian Sharps hooked the ball clear despite appeals from Monkhouse it had crossed the line.

But it wasn’t long before Pools did pull level through Walker’s crisp, screaming shot using the outside of his right boot into the top left corner of the net after a lay-off by James.

What a way to open your account.

Pools had been revitalised by the introduction of the pacy and direct Walker and Jonathan Franks and James could have won it late on but he fired an effort just wide of the left-hand post.

In the end both teams had to settle for a pre-Christmas point.

While it maybe the time for giving, Pools will hope they won’t be giving away too many points over the coming days and instead look to climb the table.

Teams:

Hartlepool United (4-4-1-1): Flinders, Duckworth, Austin (C), Baldwin, Burgess, Walton (Walker, 67), Dolan, Compton, Monkhouse, Poole (Franks, 63), James.

Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Collins, Holden, Sweeney, Rodney.

Booked: Compton.

Goal: Walker, 69.

Burton Albion (4-4-2): Lyness, Edwards, Hussey, Sharps (C), McCrory (Diamond, 45), Weir, Phillips, Cansdell-Sherriff, McGurk (Reed, 76), Palmer, Kee (Howe, 71).

Subs Not Used: Siegrist, Knowles, Dyer, Symes.

Booked: Weir, Sharps.

Goal: Edwards, 17.

Referee: Richard Clark

Attendance: 3,595 (Burton 173)

Player Ratings:

Scott Flinders: 6. Couldn’t do much about Burton’s goal which went through his legs. Despite 14 attempts on his goal, only three were on target.

Michael Duckworth: 6. Defensively sound as you’d expect from the impressive right back but was again quiet going forward. Only got forward on handful of occasions.

Neil Austin: 7. Was keen to get forward against Burton and put in a couple of dangerous crosses in first half but Albion’s defence dealt with it. Busy day for the defence.

Jack Baldwin: 7. Switched off for Burton’s goal and allowed Edwards to chest the ball down and fire it low past Flinders. Recovered well though.

Christian Burgess: 7. Should have scored or at least hit the target with first half header. Struggled to cope with Albion’s attack in opening 30 minutes but grew in confidence.

Simon Walton: 6. Struggled to cope with the pace of the Burton forwards in the first half in his deep-lying position. Was steady enough though overall.

Matty Dolan: 6. Not as influential as he has been in recent matches. Failed to move the ball quickly enough in the first half but improved as the game wore on.

Jack Compton: 7. Played the full 90 minutes. Like Austin, he played in a couple of good crosses in the first half in particular but the Burton defence was able to clear the danger.

Andy Monkhouse: 7. Had two chances cleared off the line and can consider himself unlucky he didn’t score. Always a threat.

James Poole: 6. Subdued and Burton nullified his threat early on. Struggled to get into the game.

Luke James: 7. Returned to the starting 11 after a recent break and looked fresher for it. Worked hard but didn’t really get a sight of goal until the second half. Could have won it but shot went wide.

Subs:

Jonathan Franks: 7. Bright again when he came on. Can consider himself unlucky to have been dropped. Deserves a run in the team in place of Poole.

Bradley Walker: 8. MOM. Weren’t too many stand-out performances and Walker made the difference with a clean, crisp, first-time strike. Big future. Needs a run in the team.