BRAD Walker was delighted to sign a new contract with Hartlepool United – only to see the shine taken off it 24-hours later with an agonising defeat at Cheltenham Town, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.
The 18-year-old played the full match at Whaddon Road and admitted the 90th minute winner by Town substitute Koby Arthur was a “kick in the teeth”.
Colin Cooper’s side thought they had done enough to secure a good away point after facing an onslaught from the home side.
But up popped the smallest man on the pitch to nod home the winner and leave the Pools camp devastated.
It was a sickening blow but the pressure had been mounting all half.
Billingham-born Walker had signed his new and improved two-year deal on Friday morning before the squad had travelled south.
He admitted it felt great to sign just over a year since he’d signed his first ever professional contract.
Speaking to SportMail after the match, Walker said: “I was offered the deal at the back end of last season but just got it signed before the game.
“This time last year I was just signing my first pro contract, so it’s a nice achievement to sign another when I’m still on my first one.
“It’s been a great 12 months and I still can’t really get my head around what happened last season.
“It feels good to be wanted and to be able to sign another contract.”
Walker has been a revelation for Pools since coming onto the scene 12 months ago and was playing regularly in the side last season at the tender age of 17.
His spectacular strike away at Southend won him the Pools goal of the season trophy.
It was a good piece of business by the Clarence Road club to tie him down to a new deal.
But sadly the joy didn’t last long as Pools suffered their fifth defeat of the season on Saturday.
Walker worked hard but didn’t enjoy his greatest afternoon in a blue and white shirt.
In the first 20 minutes several of his passed went astray - some even straight out of play.
It was an uncharacteristic performance from him but he did improve as the game wore on.
Mark Yates side should probably have taken the lead sooner, Scott Flinders with a wonder save mid-way through the second-half to deny sub John Marquis.
Walker said: “Scott made a wonder save.
“I had my back turned and when I looked around I just saw him turn and push the ball onto the crossbar.
“I’ve seen him do it in training all the time and he made a penalty save at Wimbledon last week as well.
“We know he is capable of doing that.”
But the Pools back-line, who had impressed for the vast majority of the game, just couldn’t hold out any longer and in the 90th minute Arthur struck.
He had found space inside the penalty area and headed the winner home.
“This game was a real kick in the teeth,” added Walker.
“We had defended well and to concede in the 90th minute was really hard to take.
“We all worked hard and won our battles, but they just booted it long and we had defended well against it for much of the game.
“For them to score so late was hard to take.”