Neale Cooper’s case for Pools defence

Scott Flinders dives to his right to make a spectacular save. Picture by FRANK REID
Scott Flinders dives to his right to make a spectacular save. Picture by FRANK REID

WITH only two goals conceded in nearly five hours of football, Neale Cooper believes things are beginning to click for his new-look backline.

The Scot took the bold decision to shake up his rearguard in light of the 3-1 defeat at Colchester United last month, a performance littered with defensive errors.

Out went skipper Sam Collins and Evan Horwood, with Neil Austin recalled to right-back, Jack Baldwin shifted to centre-back and teenager Darren Holden was brought in at left-back.

Scott Flinders remained between the posts, while Peter Hartley inherited the armband at the heart of the unit.

And Cooper feels there has been an improvement.

“It’s looked tighter at the back the last few games,” said the 48-year-old boss.

“Neil Austin has been much better since coming back in and he knows that.

“I left him out and he responded.

“He wasn’t the player we saw last season, but credit to him, he took everything on board and has come back in and done really well.

“I’ve told him that because I’m pleased with him.

“Darren had a hard time the other night at Leyton Orient against a superb player but he’s been excellent.

“He’s got that pace to recover things and that is so important.

“Jack got caught for the goal at Orient but he’s been outstanding lately.

“I can’t speak highly enough of this boy, I really can’t.

“Then there’s Scotty, another one who I can’t praise enough.

“Peter, too, I feel has picked up since getting the captaincy and him and Jack have looked good together – they’ve got a good understanding.

“We haven’t been conceding as many as we were and they’ll get better with each game together.

“The challenge for us now is putting the ball in the back of the net at the other end and giving them something to defend.”