VETERAN defender Sam Collins described victory over Dagenham & Redbridge as the “ideal day” for his Hartlepool United teammates.
The 36-year-old has been restored to the Pools first-team following the sale of Jack Baldwin to Peterborough United in a deal potentially worth up to £750,000 and he marshalled the back four with great authority at the weekend.
Collins, wearing the captain’s armband, was impressive in the goalless draw against Scunthorpe United and again in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Daggers.
The win also saw Colin Cooper’s men record their third clean sheet in four matches and the former Hull City defender has played a big part in two of those.
And he admits he just loves playing.
When asked whether it was any coincidence Pools had recorded back-to-back clean sheets since his return to the side, Collins joked “no comment”.
But he added: “It is just good to be back playing.
“Jack [Baldwin] did well for us and I’m sure he will go on to bigger and better things.
“The gaffer has asked me to play and the longer that goes on the better, because I just love playing.”
At times it looked as though Collins was gliding through the match, barely breaking sweat and he said afterwards the art of good defending is all about communication.
Collins added: “As a central defender that is your job, if you can use your voice and organise everybody around you then you shouldn’t have to run.
“By communicating and getting in good positions, it makes your job so much easier.
“I have been trying to pass that on to Jack [Baldwin] and Christian [Burgess] and they have improved that side and I’m sure they will go on and get better and better.”
The 6ft 2” central defender was delighted to see Pools record another clean sheet, adding it was especially pleasing because the squad had been working hard on being more resolute.
Collins added: “If you keep a clean sheet away from home, with the quality we have at the other end of the field, then we are always going to be a threat.
“We were really pleased in the end and the gaffer has spoken in team meetings about being resilient and not really trying to give them any chances.
“I thought we defended really well as a team and got the goals as well, which made it an ideal day for us.
“Both goals were real moments of quality and we have that right throughout the team.
“First half we had two or three good chances and with the likes of Luke Williams and Luke James we can always cause teams problems.”
The one thing causing both teams problems was the wind, but the Pools defence of Collins, Jordan Richards, Darren Holden and on-loan Middlesbrough defender Burgess dealt with it well.
“I don’t mind if it rains or snows, it is when it is windy and swirly like that when it becomes a problem,” said Collins.
“It is so hard, especially as a defender, trying to judge the flight of the ball all the time but I think we did it really well.
“We did it better than them, which is why we went on to win the game.”