Hartlepool United 1 Cheltenham Town 0: Dream debut for Middlesbrough defender Adam Jackson

Kudus Oyenuga celebrates his goal
Kudus Oyenuga celebrates his goal

Ronnie Moore had many qualms about signing a young, untested centre-half.

But the Hartlepool United manager’s fears may have allayed a little following Adam Jackson’s outstanding debut on Saturday against Cheltenham Town.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson

Moore had in his words “banged on doors” in his attempts to sign an experienced, knows-what-it’s-all-about central defender.

After failing to get one, he turned to youth and signed Jackson on loan from Middlesbrough.

The prospect, whisper this, from Darlington, has trained with the Boro first-team and had been involved in some pre-season action.

But the limit of his senior experience has been a handful of Under 21 appearances and one match for Coventry City on loan.

It’s your job in the back four [to keep the ball out your net] otherwise there’s no point you being there

ADAM JACKSON

And while they say you should never judge a book by its cover, his opening 90-odd minutes for Pools was little short of outstanding.

Sometimes you wince when PA announcer Greig Darby reads out the man of the match winner and think ‘how’s he got that?’.

But Jackson was a top-notch choice.

With Magnus Okuonghae not released by Luton to play and Scott Harrison ruled out with a hamstring problem, Moore put the 21-year-old in alongside another Boro old boy Matthew Bates. The pair were excellent.

Jackson won his headers and was pretty strong on the deck as well.

But his best work came late in the day, deflecting a Kyle Storer shot out for a a corner before throwing his body in where it hurts at the death to block a Cheltenham shot as the Robins chased what would have been a deserved equaliser.

From the resulting corner, Town hit the wood work and Pols survived – just.

Jackson left the Vic with a headache, but a smile as wide as Clarence Road after plasying his part in a gutsy rearguard effort.

“I think the whole defence put a shift in and did really well as a back four and the two midfielders in front too,” he said. “If the ball’s there you have to throw your body in the way.

“We all did that, Batesy, Jake, Ducky, everyone.

“It’s your job in the back four [to keep the ball out your net] otherwise there’s no point you being there.

“That at the end was the longest five seconds of my life, everything seemed to stop. When it hit the bar and bounced down it was such a massive relief.

“We didn’t play well, but a win’s a win and hopefully we can kick on from here, get some better performances and a few more goals.

“Hopefully, more clean sheets means we win more games.”

Jackson was thrilled to join Pools and play in a town where he has a lot of family.

He loved the game and atmosphere but explained that it was nothing like he’d ever encountered before.

“It was a completely different experience altogether,” said Jackson who lookls set to play on Sunday against Leyton Orient. “I knew the day before I was playing so it was a case of nervous excitement on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

“I didn’t know what to do on the morning, I just couldn’t wait for the game and it getting started.

“In the first 10 minutes three balls came up in the air and I thought ‘this is different to what I’ve been used to’.

“But I have to say I enjoyed every second of it.

“It would be fair to say it was ugly. But a victory is a victory and we are through to the next round and we have to be happy with that.”

Jackson said Kudus Oyenuga’s goal at the end of the first half, while very much against the run of play, gave Pools something to hold onto after the interval.

“They were a bit on top in the first half so for us to nick a goal was great for us and gave us something to hold on to in the second half and we ground it out,” he said.