Why Ronnie Moore believes Nicky Featherstone will only get better for Hartlepool United

Nick Featherstone in action during Hartlepool United's 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town.
Nick Featherstone in action during Hartlepool United's 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town.

STAR man Nicky Featherstone has been hailed by Ronnie Moore after his man-of-the-match display – with the manager insisting he will only get better.

Featherstone ran the show in the 1-0 win over Adam Murray’s physical Mansfield Town side at Victoria Park.

Recently restored following injuries to Matthew Bates and Michael Woods, the holding midfielder has impressed and dictated play through the middle.

Moore described Featherstone as a “great player” who has been unlucky not to have started more games under him since he took charge in mid-December.

But with just eight games to go, he said the 26-year-old ­– who won the penalty which Brad Walker converted ­– has a key role to play in the survival bid.

Moore told SportMail: “Nicky has been unlucky since I’ve been here – he’s a great player, no doubt about it.

“Playing 4-4-2, Woodsy was on fire, but Nicky’s never moaned and got on with it.

“He’s composed and was streets ahead in there, fantastic all afternoon.

“He did it all well, chased and has great ability and can only get better with games.

“Nicky did so well for the penalty. See how far he ran to get a block on the centre-half?

“Endeavour and commitment – a nailed-on penalty and it was nice to see Brad tuck it away.”

Ahead of the game, Moore had praised Walker and said his “appetite” had returned following a lengthy spell out of the first team picture.

Walker was again on form and got his rewards with the penalty, two minutes after the re-start.

Moore was pleased to see the confident teenager put it away before being floored later in the half by Junior Brown, who was red-carded.

“Brad has ability, no doubt,” added Moore, who watched the penalty after turning away for Ryan Bird’s missed effort against Oxford United.

“Brad was brave, we’d spoke about penalties and he wanted it.

“To be fair, Birdy has a rocket on him and so has Brad and both came up and sidefooted it.

“This time the keeper went the other way and we scored – it was a relief!

“From where I was, if the sending-off was for us I would be gutted, but Brad’s been caught and I’ve seen the marks on his face.”

It was a battle for Pools against a physical and committed Mansfield side, and they had captain Scott Flinders to thank for keeping them in the game.

Moore added: “Scott made saves at the end – one was from a fantastic shot.

“But that’s what he’s there for.”