Hartlepool United boss Dave Jones salutes defenders after clean sheet with Crewe Alexandra

Hartlepool United's forward players may have scored the goals and enjoyed their moment in the headlines.

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:51 am

But manager Dave Jones has saluted his defenders as Pools look to extend their unbeaten run at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium to five matches.

Pools made it two wins and two draws since Jones arrived at Clarence Road by sweeping aside Crewe Alexandra 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Forward-cum-midfielder Lewis Alessandra led the way with a brace with Padraig Amond and Nathan Thomas adding the other goals.

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But while there was cause for celebration for scoring four at home for the first time in three years, the clean sheet felt just as pleasing.

Pools have the youngest rearguard in the division, but how well they are performing.

And they will need to be at their strongest and most alert when they come up against LeagueTwo’s best away side this Saturday - Exeter City.

The fantastic five are keeper Joe Fryer, 21, full-backs Kenton Richardson, 17, and Liam Donnelly, 20, plus centre-halves Scott Harrison, 23, and Brad Walker, 21.

“You can’t inject confidence, it has to come from how you play,” said Jones.

On that basis, they will not be lacking in belief when they stand in front of the in-form Grecians at the Vic.

Fryer made two outstanding second-half saves in the victory over Crewe and the four men in front of him pulled off some vital tackles and headers.

And if one of the players was beaten there always seemed a colleague there in a flash to cover.

That first clean sheet for the unit should be a massive boost ahead of another important 90 minutes.

Fryer, on loan from MIddlesbrough until the end of the season, is looking the real deal since he was promoted from the bench to replace the experienced Adam Bartlett.

“Joe pulled off a couple of good saves to keep us in the game but that’s what he gets paid for,” said Jones.

“As much as I’ll praise him, I’d have been hammering if he let them in.

“The save in the second half with his right hand was top, top drawer and it won’t do him any harm whatsoever.

“Brad has certainly taken to central defence like a duck to water and Scott is, by all accounts, back to the form of a couple of years ago here.

“They are good as a pair, they feed off each other

“Liam played well and Kenton grew into the game.

“He’s a young player learning and it’s difficult, but it was nice to watch him play so well in that second half.”

Jones feels the way Pools defended proved vital to the side going on to win 4-0.

He believes the difference going in front makes is huge, so keeping the opposition out was pivotal to the turnaround inspired by Alessandra at the end of the first half.

“It became a nothing game,” said Jones. “What I mean by that is a match when nothing seems to come off, nothing seems to happen.

“It was the sort of game when we seemed to be waiting for them to score and vice versa.

“But when our chance came, we took it and built on it.

“In other matches we’ve not stayed in the game and we’ve had to come