POOLS boss Colin Cooper has hailed the “outstanding contribution” of Scott Flinders to Hartlepool United after he recorded another clean sheet in his 200th appearance for the club.
While Pools’ strikers drew a blank in their goalless draw against Portsmouth at Victoria Park, the defence was celebrating their eighth clean sheet of the season.
Flinders, enjoying his fifth season at the Clarence Road club, played a key role making three smart saves on his way to his 49th Football League clean sheet and 55th overall in just 200 competitive matches.
No keeper in Pools’ history has more clean sheets in the league.
An incredible feat given the club’s recent history, including relegation to the fourth tier last season and Cooper believes Pools are “very lucky” to have him on their books.
His manager and team mates made a big fuss of his achievement in the dressing room and Cooper said the 27-year-old should be “very proud”.
Trimdon-born Cooper said: “We are very lucky to have Scott.
“200 games for Hartlepool and 49 clean sheets in the league is an outstanding contribution.
“Scott is an outstanding goalkeeper to be playing at this level.
“Everybody said to me in the summer you must keep hold of him.
“We are, and he is proving his worth and will continue to do so.
“He is a very understated character and doesn’t shout from the rooftops but he works ever so hard and is very proud of his achievement and rightly so.”
His record 48th Football League clean sheet came in the
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previous weekend’s 2-0 win over Northampton Town and on Saturday the 6ft 4” secured his 49th, while also drawing level with 1950s goalie Norman Oakley’s record of 182 league appearances.
The only keeper with more appearances and clean sheets is George Gill but most of his 219 appearances and 64 clean sheets came during Pools’ North Eastern League days in the 1910s and 1920s.
Cooper, a former Middlesbrough player and coach, added: “Scott is 6ft 4” but can get down and save things low, he comes for crosses and his kicking, in my opinion, is improving.
“I have seen goalkeepers really improve their distribution and I remember when I was at Middlesbrough and Mark Schwarzer, who was in his 30s, improved his distribution ten-fold.
“In modern day football it is only going to benefit Scott if he continues to work hard on his technical goalkeeping work, with Jim Provett, but also works on his footwork and when he has the ball at his feet.
“If there wasn’t a lot of goalkeepers out there we would have had a lot more enquiries about Scott because in a team and club that over recent years hasn’t been flying, his contribution has to be considered nothing short of outstanding and continues to be so.
“He should rightly be given the plaudits for that and we have certainly done that to him in the dressing room with the rest of the lads.
“I think Hartlepool should be very pleased they managed to acquire the services of Scott Flinders.
“Andy Rafferty is a good goalkeeper but he has had to wait three years for a chance because of Scott and that shows what level he is at week in, week out.
“We are very lucky to have him.”