Hartlepool Utd boss’ praise for keeper Rafferty

Andy Rafferty
Andy Rafferty

COLIN Cooper sympathised with his players as they baked in the Dutch sunshine – but he was full of praise for the coolest man on the pitch.

It was goalkeeper Andy Rafferty who ensured Pools did not sign off from their European tour with a pair of defeats following his heroics during Saturday’s goalless draw with Telstar.

The 25-year-old, who only returned from a season-long knee layoff during the spring, produced four saves right from the top drawer as the hosts poured forward after the break.

Rafferty – again deputising in place of Scott Flinders, who has a slight hip injury – was the star of the show for Cooper, as the boss told SportMail: “Andy was tremendous.

“He felt disappointed with one of the goals he conceded on Thursday but that was his first game in nearly a year.

“So to go again two days later was fantastic and his saves were top class, credit to him.

“His concentration levels were great and to pull things out of the top corner when your teams needs you, well you can’t ask more than that.”

Pools could have nicked a last-minute victory when Sam Collins saw a close-range header blocked on the goal-line.

But that was the closest they came as once again they struggled to create in the final third.

“The points I made after the first game about being organised, well disciplined and having a good shape are the starting points for any team,” Cooper went on.

“So I think we made a little step forward from Thursday, but we do have to be better in possession and be better in the opposition’s final third.

“At the end of the day, our goalkeeper still had to make three fantastic saves to get us a draw.

“But can we now make it so that our goalkeeper only has to make one save?

“And then can we start nicking goals at the other end?”

As for the temperatures, which topped 20C and saw regular drinks intervals for both teams, Cooper added: “As a guy from the north of England, I felt for the lads.

“I hated playing in hot temperatures.

“Give me a drizzly, cold, Tuesday night anywhere and I’m happy.

“It was a helluva workout for the boys though and that would have done them some good.”