Hartlepool United midfielder Mark Shelton impresses in front of new boss Graeme Lee but ex-Newcastle United defender will miss Lincoln City clash
It was the performance of a man who had a point to prove from Hartlepool United midfielder Mark Shelton.
The former Salford City star made his first start since being replaced at half time in the League Two defeat to Forest Green Rovers and did his chances no harm by putting himself in the shop window for new manager Graeme Lee ahead of Saturday’s trip to Lincoln City in the FA Cup.
Shelton, alongside Tom Crawford and Martin Smith, ran the show in midfield at Hillsborough as Pools secured another huge League One scalp, this time in the EFL Trophy.
Shelton opened the scoring with his first goal of the season getting on the end of Eddy Jones’ cross to head home.
And the midfielder contributed towards Pools’ third of the evening, winning the header which led to Will Goodwin’s close range finish and Pools’ interim manager on the night, Antony Sweeney, revealed it was the perfect response to being dropped from the 25-year-old.
“I think it's safe to say he hasn't been happy over the last couple of weeks with myself because I've been the one who's left him out,” Sweeney told The Mail.
“But I feel as though Shelts hasn't been himself over the course of the last month or so. Maybe the break out of the side has done him the world of good.
“He gets his goal which is a confidence thing and I thought the three midfielders were outstanding but he’s got good attributes for us.
“He works really hard and he’s got a goal in him as well so I’m pleased for him. He’s had a little bit of a face on but I don't mind that as long as when they get their chance they take it.”
It means Shelton could be in line to feature in new manager Lee’s first game in charge against Lincoln on Saturday. But one man who will miss the trip to Sincil Bank is fullback Jamie Sterry.
Sterry returned to the starting XI at Hillsborough with his suspension for a red card picked up in the defeat to Forest Green invalid for the Papa John’s Trophy before resuming for the FA Cup.
“We had to check with the secretary on the system. His suspension was for Swindon, Port Vale and Lincoln so he was able to play and it was important for him because he's missed a period of games. I thought he was good. But he’ll miss Saturday,” Sweeney revealed.
“I put it on the players to tell me who they thought the threats were and they agreed with us that it was the two wide players.
“I thought Eddy struggled in the first half to get to grips with a good player, but I thought second half he was outstanding. The same with Jamie.
“They did their job well enough that in the second half they resorted to tossing the ball in and potshots from 35 yards instead of being the ones to try and take them on down the line, so fair play to both lads.”