Wadsworth delighted to see Brown and Austin back in action

Neil Austin scores from the penalty mark against Oldham Athletic. Picture by FRANK REID
Neil Austin scores from the penalty mark against Oldham Athletic. Picture by FRANK REID

JAMES Brown made a scoring return and Neil Austin played for the first time in nearly three months as Hartlepool United reserves signed off for the season with victory.

Austin has been sidelined with a torn calf muscle since the beginning of February and has been to see two specialists in a bid to get to the bottom of the problem.

His return passed without any adverse effects, as did that of perennial treatment-room occupant Brown.

The striker has been missing since suffering an ankle injury during last month’s home defeat against Leyton Orient.

But it was he who opened the scoring at Glanford Park with a smart turn and low smash into the bottom corner just after half-time.

And first-team boss Mick Wadsworth told SportMail: “It was good for Aussie and Brownie to get those minutes under their belt.

“We gave James about an hour and Neil a little bit longer and they are both fine.

“James got a very good goal, which is always nice, and looked sharp.

“Neil has been out a long time and we’ve missed him, but we’re not going to rush either of the lads and we’ll take our time.

“They’re hoping to play again this season but we’ll see how they are over the next few days, although Friday (against Tranmere Rovers) will be too soon.”

Pools also included trialists Curtis Main, the teenage Darlington striker, and Andy Parry, the Blackburn Rovers defender.

This was Parry’s second reserve-team outing in blue and white, and Wadsworth said: “Andy is a no-nonsense centre-half – there are no frills, no bells and whistles.

“He attacks the ball, clears the ball, blocks the ball and blocks runners.

“I went to watch him in their (Blackburn) reserves against West Ham and I thought ‘yeah, he looks okay’, so we’ve invited him to train and play with us.

“He was desperate to come up and show what he could do and that’s what we need, lads who are really positive and don’t have that baggage in terms of thinking they’re a Premier League footballer – which they’re not.”

The Iron levelled Brown’s opener when Scott Matthews fired home from close range soon after.

The scores remained tied until five minutes from the end when Michael Mackay bagged twice, first finishing from inside the six-yard area and then playing a one-two with strike partner Main before firing in via the underside of the crossbar.

The result sees Pools finish in second spot in the Totesport.com League behind champions Middlesbrough.

And Barron said: “It was a good way to finish the season and that’s what we wanted from the lads.

“Scunthorpe were a very young side but they had bags of enthusiasm so that made it a tough game for us but I was pleased with the way we performed for the majority of the game.

“It was good to see James (Brown) and Neil (Austin) get an hour under their belts - you have to look after players when they’re coming back from injury but that game time will do us good.”

Pools: Mooney, Purvis, Austin (Holden 65), Bjornsson, Parry (Mellish 75), Johnson, Brown (Greulich 60), Richards, Main, Mackay, Martin. Subs not used: Rowbotham, Hassan.