Dave Challinor praises debutant Jake Cooper as Rotherham United loanee helps Hartlepool United keep sixth clean sheet in 10 games
Defender Jake Cooper marked his Hartlepool United debut with a clean sheet in Saturday’s goalless draw with Eastleigh at Victoria Park.
The Rotherham United loanee was thrust into the starting line-up due to Lewis Cass’ suspension and Ryan Johnson’s injury. And the 21-year-old defender more than held his own alongside the experienced Gary Liddle at the back despite Pools going down to 10-men following Timi Odusina’s red card.
Hartlepool have now kept six clean sheets in their last 10 matches in the National League – showing an impressive defensive turnaround from Dave Challinor’s side.
And the Pools boss – who had previously hoped not to rely on Cooper too much this season – was impressed with the centre-back’s efforts.
“He was really good and composed,” Challinor admitted. “When you go down to 10 and switch to a four, him and Lidds were brilliant. Lidds will be brilliant for him in terms of his experience, his know how and just talking to him.
"For him to come into a tough game and play 45-minutes with 10 men and come away from it with a point and a clean sheet will do him the world of good.”
Pools have now kept clean sheets against eight of the top nine teams in the National League this season with seventh place Halifax Town being the only exception.
"We’ve been defending brilliantly for the most part,” Challinor told The Mail. “Taking the red card away [against Eastleigh], we’ve been very organised and Ben [Killip] has had very little to do.
"To pick up points with 10 men is a big ask but we’ve been able to do it once again.”