DEFENSIVE rock Jack Baldwin believes the tight-knit team spirit within the Hartlepool United squad is helping get results on the pitch, writes Richard Mennear.
And the long treks south on the team bus are helping to boost that spirit ahead of Pools’ League Two match away to Newport County tonight (KO 7.45pm).
Already this campaign Colin Cooper’s men have travelled to Torquay United (364 miles), Bristol Rovers (273 miles), Exeter City (345 miles) and now Newport County tonight, a further 300 or so miles.
Baldwin said: “The long trips do help build team spirit.
“The coach is well spread out but people are still in one small area together and it does help build on that team spirit.
“With the jokes, the banter, it is a good laugh and time goes quicker than you would expect sometimes.”
Pools have been in fine form in recent weeks winning seven out of nine games in all competitions and 20-year-old Baldwin admits the players are “loving” their football at the moment.
The positive vibe around the camp at the Maiden Castle training ground and on match days makes it a “good place” to be according to the centre-back who has been in impressive form himself.
Colin Cooper’s side had a slow start to the 2013-14 campaign, picking up just two points from the opening six League Two matches and crashing out of the Capital One Cup in the First Round to Nottingham Forest.
But there has been an upturn in fortunes recently, with Cooper’s side rising to 13th place in League Two, just three points off the play-off spots.
Included in that run were impressive victories over League One sides Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Notts County in the FA Cup First Round.
Baldwin, who joined the Clarence Road club in the summer of 2011, puts the
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positive vibe down to the impact of Pools’ management team, Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett.
The 20-year-old said: “We are loving our football. It is a good place to be.
“The gaffer and Higgy have come in and there is a positive attitude and atmosphere around the camp.
“Everyone is enjoying their football and enjoying being around the training ground.
“We have gelled as one team now and even the lads that are not involved week in, week out, are still involved in everything we do.
“We are a tight-knit group and that is showing in the performances on the pitch and the results we are getting.”
A confident Baldwin says Pools will be hoping to continue their run of good form in tonight’s fixture away to Newport County.
He added: “Their home form is good and it will be a tough game but if we play like we did on Tuesday then no one will get near us in the league and I can say that with confidence.”
And his team mate, Sam Collins, who has partnered Baldwin in the heart of defence for the last two matches, says Pools have nothing to fear.
Collins, 36, said: “We just have to keep doing what we have been doing and can’t afford to worry about anyone else.
“We have got a tough week with the travelling and the Friday night game so we need to get plenty of rest and get ready for that.
“But if we keep playing like we have been, there is nothing really to fear.”