GUTTED Jack Baldwin was lost for words after watching his Hartlepool United team-mates go out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy - despite “battering” Rotherham United.
The defensive lynchpin said the Pools players couldn’t believe they had lost following one of their most impressive performances of the season.
Baldwin, again impressive at the back alongside veteran Sam Collins, admitted the entire dressing room was “gutted” at the final whistle following the gut-wrenching 2-1 defeat.
Pools dominated possession, had 18 attempts at goal and hit the woodwork but were unable to find a way to beat League One Millers who now progress to the northern area semi-final.
Baldwin said the players couldn’t have worked any harder and the 20-year-old defender is now backing Pools to bounce back strongly, hoping his team mates will take out last night’s frustrations and “batter” Newport County in Friday night’s League Two fixture.
Baldwin, who made his 19th appearance of the season against the Millers, said: “Everyone in the changing room afterwards was gutted.
“The performance was probably one of the best we have had this season.
“They are middle of League One and we have absolutely battered them.
“We dominated the possession, attempts on goal, and their keeper has made three or four vital saves and we have hit the woodwork.
“You just don’t know what to say.
“We put the performance in that we needed too but couldn’t get the result.”
At times, Pools played some sparkling football, especially in the first half, and Baldwin said it was a good game to be part of from that point of view.
However, at times the game bordered on a farce with Steve Evans’ Rotherham side slowing the game down through constant time wasting, none more so than their keeper Adam Collin.
Baldwin said: “They shut the back door but we were trying to work out a way through.
“The football we played at times was really good.
“We have hit the woodwork, the keeper has made vital saves but it has just not fallen for us.
“It felt good to play in and I’m sure it was good to watch at times as well.
“Hopefully we can continue the performances in the league and continue to work our way up the league.”
On the time wasting antics, Baldwin added: “It just shows they are a League One side and they are time wasting against us. It shows we can be back in League One.”
The Pools players will be enjoying a recovery day today, using the swimming pool at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, before making the long trip to Newport tomorrow ahead of Friday night’s game.
Baldwin added: “The preparation for long games has been spot on and it will be again this week.
“We will get down there and give Newport a battering on the back of today,” he smiled.