MATCH REPORT: Colin Cooper erects “Not for Sale” signs at Victoria Park

Scott Flinders in action against Middlesborough FC.
Scott Flinders in action against Middlesborough FC.

COLIN Cooper is today erecting “Not for Sale” signs at Victoria Park.

There will be no need to position such obstacles in the goalmouth, however.

That particular domain is well taken care of.

And it is the man who populates such territory who is the subject of those real-estate boards.

Scott Flinders – what is his value on the open market?

But the message from the Pools boss is clear – priceless.

With six weeks remaining until summer window slams shut – as it does – that resolve will surely be tested.

You could even argue that such performances as Saturday are far from helpful, as is the press celebration which duly follows.

But boy was he worth it.

Mid July? Just a few thousand spectators? It matters not, this was an impassable display befitting of the grandest occasion.

Boro’s chances were not of the “half” variety either, the majority involved Lucas Jutkiewicz staring into the eyes of his opponent, his nemesis, in fact.

For the striker just could not negotiate a way beyond the Pools No.1.

Common wisdom tells you that his best opportunity was from the penalty spot.

It was not.

There were two later one-on-one situations in which Jutkiewicz had the chance to exact revenge.

He could not.

Afterwards, the pair embraced, a friendly exchange in which the striker poured praise over the custodian.

Had this been a competitive fixture then the red-shirted and equally red-faced Jutkiewicz might not have been so keen to extol the virtues of Flinders.

How the Boro man will be hoping that the gloved-wonder does not end up at a Championship rival in the near future.

But more of that penalty save.

With the game deadlocked on 73 minutes, Pools skipper Antony Sweeney extended a lethargic limb and felled Marvin Emnes, no doubting the subsequent award of the spot-kick.

Jutkiewicz had already been thwarted by Flinders on at least three occasions and so his election as taker was, perhaps, not wise.

So it proved.

Previously, his method had spanned place, panache and poke – now it was the turn of power.

Striding onto the ball he unleashed an uncompromising blast towards Flinders’ bottom corner.

Later, the stopper, rather modestly, reflected “I guessed right and luckily it hit me”.

It was, however, more than mere fortune.

Diving low to his right, Flinders produced the most resistant of wrists to repel the forward’s brazen belt.

With 17 minutes still to play the remainder of the script had already been inked – there was no way the visitors were ever going to nick victory.

Not that it would have been ill-deserved.

On the contrary, Boro had tore through their hosts at will during the second period.

It was enough to concern Cooper.

Perhaps his most telling post-match reflection was this, “we’ll be in trouble if we have to rely on our goalkeeper like that every week”.

And how right he is.

Pools lost their way as the match wore on. Fatigue, naïvety, inferior ability – they all played a part.

But Flinders, as last season proved, can only resist for so long.

Again, though, there were flashes of promise at the other end of the park and the opening exchanges did belong to Pools.

Luke James went close, as did Andy Monkhouse.

Thereafter the threat waned somewhat and Simon Walton, in central midfield, was over-ran as well as careless in possession surely a little too often for Cooper’s liking.

The midfielder proved his worth towards the back end of last season but, on current evidence, he appears a little way short of those standards.

Elsewhere it remains a case of “more needed” - be that Monkhouse, Jack Compton, Jon Franks or Sweeney, the new skipper.

But there is one position Cooper need not worry about.

For Flinders, he’s as safe as houses.